This is for Tanya”¦ She’s a single mom with three kids. She works behind the counter in the post office – knows everyone in town. Years ago she threw away the “return to sender, address unknown” stamp – By Jack Ridl
If there’s a finer translation of the term “namaste”, well, I have not yet found it. Such an eloquent thread strung together here in this opening to the poem Writing to Your Unknown Friends by Jack Ridl. We are in this together, and each of us has a light that we can share in both the ordinary and the extraordinary trials of our daily lives. In yoga, we (formally) complete our practice with this solemn gesture humbly bowing in recognition of one another. Yet well before this customary finish, the deeper pulse has been stirred. In that marriage of conscious breathing and physical exertion which is unique to yoga comes a sweet spot in our practice – a magical shift from “me” to “we”. The practice has evolved into a prayer. We then celebrate that expansion in the quiet space of the practice’s finish.
This fragmented life sends us self searching. We arrive in practice individually in search of some antidote to that untethering of the mind, the soul, the body”¦ seeking a grace of some sort. Then, somewhere along the way in the course of our weaving together pranayama (breath) and asana (the physical posture) we hatch out of our bubble and find ourselves humbled by something much greater than the solitary. Maybe while rooting down through our standing leg as we find balance? Perhaps in the act of gently peeling back a shoulder as we twist open in trikonasana, or in the finish of a great exhale as the feet spring forward to meet the hands? Often for me it’s in the simple act of dialing the palms open while standing in Tadasana. In competition with no one or no thing”¦ The fog lifts, and all of a sudden there is a clearing, an undeniable clearing and a space in which the lens gets wider. A dawn in which our world gets a whole lot bigger. In this reconnecting to the “me”, we seamlessly recall the “we” which is at the heart of the ancient eight-limbed path of yoga. The bliss becomes very much a shared experience.
I’ve heard it said that ”all religions begin with a cry of help.” The buddha is said to have advised, “You could search the whole world and not find anyone more deserving of your love and compassion than yourself.” The pause begins right there as we give ourself the gift of this practice. And in that clearing arrives the ultimate guidance – that of extending the gratitude.
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