After death erupts into your life, it can be quite tricky to go back to the activities you used to do. Whole swaths of things become irritating, or sad, or just plain wrong.
Writing without the deeply personal is not the whole story of grief. To give the whole story, to give as many handholds as possible in the steep climb of grief, we need to hear personal stories. Each Friday, I’ll post something from my own experience of grief and love. It’s an inside look at love, at grief, at life.
This week, a post that contained the first seeds of Refuge In Grief. My experience in those first regular yoga classes spurred me on, almost forced me, to create the audio program you’ll find here on this site. So: thanks, young yoga teacher. Your soft-spoken, platitude filled class made something really beautiful grow.
I tried, relatively early on, to go back to regular yoga classes.
They did not induce calm.
All those images of peaceful, blissed out yogis, seated calmly on their mats – that was not me. Every time some soft voiced yoga teacher spouted off the standard new-agey platitudes, I wanted to stand up and yell corrections:
- “you create your own reality.” Really? I did this? I am responsible for my partner drowning? I created this? That’s a lot of responsibility on me.
- “Where you are is absolutely perfect, everything is beautiful in this moment.” No. No it isn’t, and WTF does child’s pose have to do with anything?
- “Breathe, and know that everything is exactly as it should be, and is unfolding for your own deepest good.” Come now, dear young yoga teacher, let me tell you that your husband just suddenly died, and please let me tell you also that all you need to do is breathe, and know it’s all for your own good. How great is that?
A friend of mine who has lived through cancer, palsy and seizures related to cancer, crohn’s, and all manner of other things quit her yoga as well. She said –
it’s all well and good until you’re really in pain, until you really need the power behind the words. And just when you need it most, you reach for it and find there’s nothing there.
All those empty, pretty words.
All the teachers can do is prattle on about how if my thoughts were clear, my way would be clear, how right now is just perfect. What I want to know is what do I hold on to when there’s nothing left. What is there when it is not perfect, and you are terrified?
The good that came out of those early classes, the few I could withstand, was an idea of “yoga for death.” Seething there on my mat, I had whole classes, whole dialogues run seamlessly and beautifully in my mind. I don’t remember it all (how I wish I’d had a notebook with me), but the basic philosophy remains.
If I were a yoga teacher, here are the things I would say:
You do not create your reality, it will be what it will be.
Your practice will not change anything that can’t be changed.
You come to your mat, to your practice, to be here for yourself, to keep your heart from seizing up entirely.
You are here. Where you are is not perfect.
Practice is for this moment, not for any future.
Practice is to hear what you need, for yourself, in any given moment of reality.
Everything is unfolding. Good or bad is not in your command. Breathe.
You come here to sit beside what is – both joy and sorrow, goodness and not.
And deepen that twist.
Sometimes that is all you’ve got.
Yoga for death. I would so be there.