The invitation on the mat tonight was this:
Find the place of Yes.
But how many of us are saying no, most of the time?
Yesterday I hailed a cab to take me a $10 distance but it cost me $30 because traffic and tourism go crazy in Toronto in the summer.Turns out my driver had been born in a house in the East end of Toronto not far from where my great grandfather, the one I told you about, lived. And my cab driver’s father was in the First World War (yeah, the first), and then he got a job delivering bread on a horse. And my great grandfather the chemist was on my cab driver’s father’s bread route. He (the veteran with the bread business) went on to win an award for best employee of the bread company (Canada Bread, by the way) and was honoured by getting to show off his horse in a parade on the CNE grounds. Epic. And to top it off, he finished his career driving a streetcar – the horse-drawn kind – up and down Queen Street in Toronto, until they introduced the mechanical streetcars and then he learned how to drive one of those too.
So, that’s what happened to me on my way to Liberty Village for a beer. I literally heard the most engaging story I’ve heard in, well, a while. Then my friends told me their workplace sexual harassment story which was similarly engaging, but in a different way.
Back in the cab, it was not what I did, but how I did it, much like my trip to the dentist earlier this month. I said Yes.
Today in yoga we got a special warning at the beginning of class that went like this:
We’re doing arm balances today. It’s happening. If you give up, that’s fine, but don’t stare at the person next to you. He or she doesn’t need an audience.
BAM. Telling it like it is, and I appreciate that.
Everyone proceeded to do their own thing, in a communal way. It was an inward journey with three dozen people in the immediate vicinity. There were some soaring moments. And everyone produced their OM sound on the same note, which doesn’t always happen, and is terrific. It’s how OMs are supposed to be.
This post may seem like it’s all over the place, but don’t give up so easily.
There’s an invitation on the mat: to say Yes.
At work this week the OMs got tuned for the better. Being at the six month mark in a new place, there is less constant comparison of what is now to what was then. It’s just what IS. I’m getting out of the fuzzy area where the colour of being a consultant was bleeding into the colour of working in-house, like when you’re on a road trip and the radio station signals are all interfering with each other. Every day I’m feeling better about the new colour on my page, the new station I’m tuned to. Rapid adaptability is a myth for people who aren’t psychic – for the vast majority of us, change takes time. And it’s difficult.
What if we could master adaptation without being psychic? That would take practice.
In yoga class these days I’m working on my transitions from pose to pose. It is possible to reach perfection with the alignment, engagement and intensity of Warrior 2. It’s even possible to get restless with the pose, over and over. But what about the move from Warrior 1 to Warrior 2? And what about moving from Warrior 2 to Warrior 3, or pinwheeling the arms to the mat and effortlessly stepping back to plank or Downward Dog? What if yoga class wasn’t about the poses but about the transitions from one pose to the next? The poses are breaks in between the movement. The movement is the breath, and the breath creates change.
Some of us are tinkerers. But when it comes to transitioning through a yoga sequence, the most direct movement, the one that lands you exactly where you need to be next in the most efficient way, is the best. A lot of injuries come from repetitively over extending in a specific transition, straining the joints, moving through misalignment in order to get to alignment, over and over again.
With practice we can minimize our transition time and adapt to new places more easily, including off the mat. There was a day when Queen street turned over from horse drawn street cars to mechanical ones, and all the men who knew horses had to learn engines.
The invitation on the mat today was to say Yes. Yes to Change. Now is the time to focus on yourself. But tune your OM to your surroundings. It speeds up adaptation.