It’s All Practice

“When you workout, you don’t pinnacle – you don’t finally make it – instead, you keep moving; keep practicing, working, building, learning, aspiring.  It’s cyclical, not linear.” – MDS

I began practicing hot yoga about 10 years ago, and at that time, I had no idea it’d become such an asset.  I added yoga to my training, since it was gentle to my joints and body, and mostly, because, through its practice, the yoga trained and calmed my mind.

I’ve called on my yoga often during these 10 years – broken relationships, empty nesting, injuries, worry, paranoia, doubt.

I’d assumed we’d all heard, “breathe in through your nose…hold…breathe out through your mouth – breathe in the good, and with every breath out, let go of what has no purpose, what doesn’t serve you anymore.”

But although we benefit every second of our lives from breath, we seldom spend time practicing it.

We take for granted our breathing, often not recognizing and celebrating our breath’s consistency, dependability or power. It just happens, but if we’re believing that we’re actively participating in life, rather than life just happening to us, then we embrace the circle rather than the line of life.

We need the oxygen that the Earth gives to us as much as the Earth needs the CO2 we breathe out – a cycle, that we all on this Earth create, together.

So you can only imagine, how at this time, I feel when I see and hear my dear friend struggle for each breath, as the lung cancer  tries to take up space in her airways. My friend yearns for the days when making a bed or preparing a meal weren’t huge feats, and I wish, with all my yoga practice breathing, that I had the capacity to breathe for the two of us – her to me and me to her – but that’s a cycle beyond my power and control.

So when I’m trying to breathe calmly when I see her struggle, I listen to our breaths and trust in the present -the right here, right now – the gift of breathing in and out, side by side, together.

Inhale, we’ve come full circle, exhale.

It’s a culmination of a lot of practice. You taught me. I taught you.

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Last Stand

Have you ever wondered who or what would be your last vision on earth?

On a brisk late October Saturday morning, Jack left his wife’s side in their warm bed and headed up the hill above their home to deer hunt.  He left a note on the kitchen floor so his wife would stumble upon it when she awoke.

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He had an agreement with his friend, Butch – they both tell each other their whereabouts when leaving for the woods.  He told Butch he’d be at the 365. Jack wore his orange hat and vest.

Around 8 am, a stranger, but fellow hunter noticed the orange of Jack’s hat and vest through the woods.  Hunters etiquette is unspoken but universal – give your fellow hunters space and silence – don’t disrupt another’s shot and keep hunters safe from bullets.  About 10 am, the fellow hunter again passed by Jack’s stand. Jack’s orange hat and vest outlined Jack’s sitting position – Jack was slumped over.  The fellow hunter called the sheriff.

Meanwhile, at home, Jack’s wife had gotten his note and worried why he hadn’t returned.  She called Butch. Knowing Jack’s location in the woods, Butch went to find him.  Approaching the stand, Butch was stopped by the sheriff, “stay back! we have a deceased person.” Butch convinced the sheriff, “I think I can identify the deceased for you.”

And he did.

Jack, slumped over his rifle that was resting on his knees, had one hand in his sweatshirt’s pocket.

It had been instant. It was a massive heart attack. Jack died, doing what he loved where he loved.

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Returning 3 weeks later for Jack’s memorial, we made our way through the forest to Jack’s Last Stand.

I sat down on the stump where Jack had sat – I wondered if the trek up that hill had been tough – was he out of breath? was he cold? Did he think about his warm bed that he’d deserted that morning? Did he hear deer hooves crushing the pine cones and tree debris that was scattered on the forest’s floor? Was he hungry?

And then all my questions were silenced when I looked out from Jack’s Last Stand.

This view

and then lights out.

No time for questioning.

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His heart stopped beating, but not before it led him Home, to a perfectly fitting place where he could enter the Kingdom in his orange hat and vest with silence and space, leaving behind a beautiful stand where we may now feel His Grace.