When I was little, the mean girl in the neighborhood just terrorized us. I was five or six years old and hung with my sister, older by a year. I felt safe with her. This girl would sometimes join the other kids from the block when we played outside in our backyard.
One day, the mean girl pointed to the sky. We looked up and saw an airplane’s leftover white trail cutting the sky in two. The sky is falling, she hollered! The sky is falling! My sister ran, and I followed, convinced the white line had sliced the sky from the air. We yanked open the screen door to the kitchen and let it slam behind us, convinced we were safe on the inside while we peered fearfully at the sky outside.
I am afraid to say that I have sort of relived this scenario as an adult.
Once upon a time, I thrived on change. Change was exciting, and my 20s were filled with new changes almost every year. Graduation. A job. A marriage. A home. A dog. A baby. A new home. Another baby! Another new home. A growing business. Life was dynamic, and we sailed along on winds that blew in all directions. Somewhere along the way, though, I no longer welcomed change. My 30s brought a divorce. Big change! Three more moves but now on my own. More changes.
Raising my children, I encouraged accomplishments, tended accidents, changed schools, signed them up for all sorts of arts and sports. I fostered growth and change in my children, always; but, for me, I took cover. I hunkered down.
And it was yoga that brought me back out.
When I first started yoga, many of the poses felt silly. It was a new place, and there were few people in the room, so I could not really hide. It felt weird, and I was self conscious, especially with the mirrors reflecting my body positioned in all sorts of new-fangled ways. We were instructed in Warrior I, a powerful pose where the arms shoot up alongside the ears with one leg forward and one leg back, feet planted on the mat. A difficult pose if you feel powerful and even more difficult if you do not. Warrior II was a little better with arms spread front to back and legs in a more comfortable lunge, hips to the side. There was the yoga squat – not so lady like. And there was Down Dog, the body in an inverted “V” with the bottom sticking up, after which we were supposed to raise one leg. We were expected to stand on our heads, invert our bodies. Even my toes were going the wrong way. I found myself always pointing them – a yoga no-no.
Thank goodness for the music and the easy going instruction. It helped take me out of my head and into my body. Out of stuck mode and into something brand new. Over a period of months, my body changed. And my mind changed, too. I was lighter both physically and mentally, and I began to crave more. More in my yoga practice, and more in my life.
The other day, I attended an advisory board meeting for work. I was the note-taker. Who knew my conscientious student days would pay off in this way? I can take notes with my eyes closed and, just like in college, the result is practically a transcript of what was said. At the end of the meeting, those on the board provided their thoughts on the subject matter at hand, the impact of the economic landscape over the coming years for the host company.
One by one, the board members spoke up, and I typed. I filled many pages before one of the last comments made me stop. Just because the world is changing, the board member stated, doesn’t mean the sky is falling.
I quickly pulled out a piece of scrap paper and wrote this down.
This profound statement brought me immediately back to the little girl behind the screen door. In some respects, I had raced back behind that door 15 years ago, thinking I was in a safe place when, really, I was just in a stuck place.
Stepping into the yoga studio has been like stepping back out into the yard, bravely looking up at the sky and realizing it is still in one piece, after all.