Listening to the Mind

When I was a vocal student, I had this effervescent choral conductor who would say things like:

I am so excited for the Spring Concert, I want it to be here today. But the preparation is such a delight that I’m being careful not to wish this time away.

This woman loved what she did. Somewhere along the way, she made a series of decisions that brought her to that place. Thinking about that even now makes me optimistic about life.

Today was mostly spent reading a very long book that I want to finish by next weekend, because that’s when my book club meets, and when I don’t finish the book before book club, I always feel unworthy. My book club is, really, a privilege. It’s full of art therapists and film makers and actors and youth counselors – psychology buffs who understand the arc of a story, are sympathetic to artistic nuance and the human condition and, above all, are fun to hang out with. All in all, it’s a cracker jack book club.

So I’ve been reading, almost non-stop, for three days. That, and starting an (aggressive? can we call it that?) cleansing program that my Naturopath has recommended to detoxify my system and – we hope – clear my skin. The cleanse involves this anti oxidant powder that is supposed to be a tasteless addition to a smoothie, but isn’t. tasteless. at. all. It’s chalky and a bit sour. It’s taken me three days to finally land on a recipe that makes it palatable for me: it involves almond butter and plenty of cinnamon.

So for three days I’ve been reading, drinking smoothies, and not missing coffee too much. But the book (The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt) has taken me on some unexpected ups – and downs. There are lovely parts, for sure, but at the heart of the story is a tragic accident, and plenty more illicit drug use and self destructive delinquency than, a, I expected, and b, I normally choose to tolerate. 

Needless to say, I will still be finishing the book, for reasons already noted above regarding my book club.

But taking a step back from all of this reminds me how sensitive we can be (I assume it’s not just me?) to the stories we’re exposed to, the things around us, the ideas we invite in to our minds.

And I don’t know why my mind went back to my choral conductor when I put down my tablet after another chapter of watching my likeable hero take still more harrowing life risks, but I’m glad it did. I only think about her now and then, and with the strangest triggers. Maybe that fallback memory is my mind’s way of letting some light in when things get too dark.

And here we come to the wisdom of the mind, and of yoga. Deep inside, we know what we need. Sometimes we just have to let it happen without requiring an explanation. And practicing yoga tunes us into that, even on days when we’re reading instead.

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