Sunday, September 8, 2013

Entering Silence

I don't do silence very well. Neither do I do strangers. So what am I doing at a silent yoga retreat this weekend? It sounded like a good idea at the time. I was on a yoga jag and I desperately needed retreat when the email showed up in my inbox like an answered prayer. Perhaps it was.

But time passed. I am on a running jag this month. I have spent the past five days in varying states of anxiety about strangers, close spaces, intimate poses, and crushing silence.

I arrived here about 2 pm. The earliest we were encouraged to arrive. I have taken this day off for self care, to find my way to this glorious mountain top and to ease my way into something settled. The instructions encouraged us to bring something to leave on the prayer table. Something that represented our intention.

Ok, so I have obsessed about that a fair amount too. My yoga practice is deep enough that I do set intentions, for my practice, for my day, for the way yoga will infuse my life beyond the mat. And so, here goes. My intention for this weekend is to open up. Physically, emotionally, spiritually. 

I slouch, my shoulders drawn toward my ears, my chest closing in on itself. At the end of a run, I feel myself slouching as I slog along. When I take shivasana, it is hard for my shoulders to rest flat against the ground. A friend noted that in tree pose, I need more distance between my ears and my shoulders.

It isn't just a physical carriage. I struggle to be open emotionally with others. I struggle to name my stuff, claim my needs, say how you make me feel. Sometimes I forget to breathe. 

Really.

And I feel like God is really calling me out of this exoskeletal rolly bug attitude...out of fetal position.

Called to love others, to walk with Jesus, requires turning myself inside out, sharing myself and letting others in. We talk at the seminary about turning the church inside out. I feel like a call to ministry requires a parallel action for individuals.

I wonder if Jesus felt the same emotional and bodily resistance to others. Before you scoff, think of how often scripture describes Jesus taking himself out of the fray to be with his Father, to pray, to rest and to be silent.  And he generally emerged from these retreats to do something significant. 

For some time, the lotus blossom has been iconic for me. Lotus blossoms open briefly in the sun, full of radiance and beauty. There is my intention...to open like a lotus blossom, to know that opening does not last forever, to recognize the cycle of bloom and to seek awareness of that moment of full openness. To recognize how deeply and profoundly oxygen pervades the cracks and crevices of my whole being, energizing the extremities for fruitfulness and shared beauty. And to know that the closed up moments are also part of the process...but rather than seeking the closed moments, to reach more eagerly for the open ones.

And in that open moment to be fully present to the world, a source of love and light and nourishment and beauty.

So here goes. First gentle yoga session in 45 minutes. Three part breathing. Chest and hip openers. My body unfolding and bringing my heart and mind and soul along the way, muscle memory forming and returning.

Namaste.

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