I discovered yoga three or four months ago when I was going through a bit of a rough patch. Now I go to three classes a week on a pretty regular basis; and in between I practice with DVDs and online videos. Because, as I like to tell my kids, anything worth doing is worth over-doing.
Of the three yoga classes I attend regularly, my very favorite is early Sunday mornings, with yoga instructor Tom the Calm. Tom sometimes brings a harmonium and plays open fifths while we all chant "Om." Everyone chants the top note. Sometimes I think about chanting the bottom note and getting a little harmony going. But that would be showing off, which is a very un-yogi thing to do. On the other hand, there are plenty of people in the class who can get their heels all the way down to the ground when they do Downward Facing Dog. Or who can go straight from Eagle to Warrior 1, standing only on one foot for long periods of time with nary a wobble. If that's not showing off, what is?
Right. Next time, I'm Om-ing the harmony. Those one-footed Warriors can suck on it.
But this past Sunday was a particularly awesome class, because Tom shifted the format from Flow to Flow with Meditation. And how exciting is that???
OK. You're not supposed to get excited about meditation. Meditation is supposed to calm you way the hell down. All of which goes to show you just how much I, of all people, really need to meditate.
Tom the Calm shows us lots of different options for sitting comfortably, with your spine erect, while you meditate. Tom tells us that when our attention wanders, we should bring our attention gently back to our breath. Tom tells us that through meditation we will learn to focus on What Is, and to separate What Is from what our mind does with What Is.
So I choose my Comfortable Erect Sitting Option, a nice little setup involving a yoga block and an ugly yoga blanket, and I close my eyes. Tom rings this wonderful little bell to start the meditation clock, as it were. I am loving the shit out of this little bell. But is it as good as the harmonium? No harmony, but lots of great overtones. On the other hand, there is no singing along with the bell. I like singing. But I remind myself that the bell is What Is, and that comparing it to the harmonium is what my mind is doing with What Is. And I gently bring my awareness back to the breath.
I inhale. I exhale. I inhale some more.
It is so liberating to let my mind just go blank this way. How calm and un-excited I am! How great would it be if I could meditate every day? I really have no excuse not to, now that I have my very own ugly yoga blanket, courtesy of Amazon.
I wonder how I will fit my daily meditation into my schedule of work and carpools and volunteer obligations and family stuff. Maybe right after dinner? Except not on Tuesdays. Or Wednesdays. And Sundays can be hard to predict....
I remind myself that this meditation session is What Is, and this planning to meditate more is what my mind is doing with What Is. And I inhale and exhale some more.
What Is: this ugly yoga blanket under my butt.
What Is: my muscles feeling stretchy and loose after an hour of yoga.
What Is: a stomach rumbling. Very, very loudly. I do not think it is mine.
In fact, this stomach rumbling That Is, is loud and sustained enough that it is perhaps the product of two stomachs, in two different meditating yogis on this early Sunday morning. These two or perhaps even more empty stomachs in the row directly behind me are singing Om at full volume in some interesting harmony (not open fifths). That's What Is. And what my mind does with the stomach rumbling that is What Is, is to inventory the contents of my fridge and think about what I will eat for breakfast when I get home.
Tom the Calm rings the little bell again. I am loving the shit out of that little bell.
And I am loving the shit out of Sunday morning meditation. But it sure does make me hungry.