March 27, 2015
As I write this I am sitting at the JFK airport working on hour 36 of trying to catch a standby flight to Europe. The first few hours were smooth, but as time passes the difficulty of sitting and waiting grows. In situations like this the images and ideas of who am I and how I react to situations is challenged. Severely.
For someone who maintains a rigorous daily yoga practice and teaches several groups of students a week this should be easy, right? So much of what I teach my students and learn from my own practice is to cultivate a quiet gentleness in tight situations- “Don’t take it too seriously. It will pass in 5 breaths (300-100 in the Bheemashakti world).” So why is it so difficult to practice this when I’m away from the studio, sitting in a crowded airport?
The truth is that yoga is tough. Forget about binding Marichyasana D. What about keeping cool when all you want is to cash in a friend’s airline benefit and squeeze on an already crowded flight to meet up with your soul mate so you celebrate your 30th birthday in your favorite country (to date), but every single flight is oversold? How many breaths have passed in this last 36 hours? Guaranteed, some of them are going to be shallow, laborious, or even missing. And when my default reaction to life is to run away for a few hours and wiggle my way through some asana, there seems nowhere to run when I’m on the road. Sure I could roll out my mat and take a few Surya Namaskara, but I have a feeling that this isn’t the solution. Especially when I face a 7 hour flight packed in a tight middle row.
When I told Uta I was popping a Xanax yesterday she said, “what about some pranayama and meditation?” Ah yes, of course! But did it happen? No. I tried. Not that hard. But I could barely hear over all of the noisy, chattering thoughts in my head. At this point my adrenals are taxed from the rise and fall of anticipation every time the gate agents are ready to clear standby passengers.
Well last night I made it to New York from San Diego. I believe I am halfway to Germany. In lieu of fighting to wiggle on a flight to London and purchasing a $300 ticket to Frankfurt I decided to spend the night in a cheap New York city hotel and try again today. I certainly felt defeated at first but after some sleep and a nice day in the city I feel quite hopeful. In the time it took me to be beaten down by this whole experience and realize I AM NOT IN CONTROL, I have taken to reading “Loving Ganesh” (how I came across it is another story). In this text about all things related to the full figured elephant deity I felt it was time to abandon my own desires and put it all in His hands.
You see Ganesh resides in the Muladhara (root) chakra, home of all basic wants and desires. As I have learned from many yogic texts, podcasts, lectures, and my time at Vipassana, if we live in our desires, following the ebb and flow of craving and aversion we are taking a surefire route to suffering. After hour 18, suffering seems like a nice word. But is that where I am? Not being able to accept and sit in peace where I am at this very moment? So hey if there’s nothing else I can do but sit and wait, at least I can try to give Ganesh a call and see if He can pull any strings on my behalf.
As the remover of obstacles, Ganesh can also create obstacles to steer a devotee on the right path. So if jumping into a pool of sharks is what you want, Ganesh may crush your dreams and steer you toward a much safer option. And because we do not always understand the looming danger or karmic stirring on the other side of our desires, we can feel absolutely crushed when we are denied or restricted. I’m tired of feeling crushed and beaten. I just want to enjoy this trip so I’m leaving it up Him.
A benefit of spending the night in New York was that I was able to take a field trip to the Jivamukti Yoga School. I decided to take class, have some delicious food and wait until the next flight. After I paid and made may way into the classroom, behold!
This could be coincidence but with all the contact I’ve tried to make with my new friend, I feel like I’ve been heard- loud and clear. More interesting was that the class itself was small- 3 students including myself. At first I thought, “wow this teacher must be new or not very good” but as the practice kicked in I realized this is exactly what I needed after being surrounded by cranky irritable people like myself- a refuge and a sanctuary away from all the craziness. And sequence of asana was exactly what I needed to decompress my spine, soften the shoulders and remember how to breathe.
At this point I still don’t know if I will make it onto this flight, but I’ve given Ganesh the keys and asked him to drive. Whatever happens I know that at least I am safe, have access to food, water, and a bathroom. And with a little faith and determination I look to the One-Tusked Wonder to pave a golden path to wherever it is that I am headed.