Friday, October 12, 2012

Restorative Life

Baggage Claim

     As usual, I've overpacked. My goal is to always go light, pack efficiently and compact. The reality is I generally end up sitting on my suitcase, squeezing in items that maybe I won't be able to live without or including every outfit combo that would suit my various moods or the weather or chance opportunities. I try to outwit travel and all the loops and curves it can throw my way, though I often end up loving the detours. I love to travel. I can't wait to see what's around the next corner or how people experience life in other parts of the country. They say, whenever you go, there you are. We carry our baggage so to speak.
     That's true, of course, but it goes deeper than that. We are the food we eat and the places we've been. Age has mellowed me, made me realize it's good to get rid of my baggage for awhile and see the culture and life view of another area. I'm the same, but different - more open somehow.

We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
                                                                                   T.S. Eliot


         I have learned to love the subtle changes autumn brings to the salt marsh in the Lowcountry. The spartina grass fades gently from vibrant summer green to a softer golden brown as the days cool and shorten.  But a few days back home in West Virginia remind me that I miss the vibrant colors of the mountains as the trees announce the arrival of autumn with cool crisp days and frost sprinkled nights.   All the colors of nature proclaim that a season has ended and another begun.  
        The colors remind us that change happens whether we are ready for it or not.  The cycle of life continues.  Life changes and moves on. We leave home. Our children grow up and move away.  Our  jobs change, new roads are paved, new babies are born.  Things change.
      It’s October.  We can embrace the change in the air by pulling on a sweater and stepping out for a brisk walk or we can huddle inside the house, remembering the last warm days of summer.   It’s all about attitude.


     When I arrived for my first restorative yoga class, the instructor, Tracy, had prepared a station for each of the six women in the group. A yoga mat, a large foam block, a long blue strap, a small foam block, and a fuzzy blanket were laid out for me. The lights were low, and soothing music played from Tracy's iPod. The first pose had me on my back, knees up, using my feet and core muscles to lift my lower back off the floor far enough to position the large foam block under my lumbar spine. I stretched to reach for the block, just as Tracy arrived and, shaking her head gently, placed it for me. We were to hold each pose for five full minutes, focusing on our breathing and "listening to our bodies." My mind wandered, and my inner perfectionist took over. I found myself looking at my classmates to make sure I was doing the pose "correctly," but Tracy caught me, and I earned another gently disapproving shake of her head. 
     The next pose was sitting against the wall, legs stretching up the wall, backs flat on the mat. Tracy told us to let one leg fall to the side "until you are comfortable," though again, I was comparing my pose to everyone else's. The long strap to one side of my mat was there to wrap around my foot for support, and just as I was about to break the pose to reach for it, Tracy appeared again. As she placed the strap around my foot, she leaned in to whisper, "You're going to have to learn to let me do things for you, Stacy."


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