Last night, I watched a program that sequestered contestants for several weeks, while demanding of them their highest creative abilities. In one scene, a man was shown weeping as he worked on his piece: He acutely missed his wife and small children; however, he strongly felt the need to compete, in order to further his career. His capacity to fully feel emotional pain, yet persevere and tap into his creative energies inspired today’s short routine. As one who used to dread the feeling of missing loved ones, or of being homesick, I empathize with the deep aching that can threaten our feeling of inner security: Yet I also recognize and appreciate the resilience that may be born of those moments.
I distinctly recall a time when the pain of missing rendered me motionless and speechless. In my first days as a university student in Aix-en-Provence, France, one of my classes took place in a centuries-old stone cellar that had been converted into a stadium-style classroom. As my new classmates and I found our way to seats on the thick stone “bleachers,” we chatted and laughed, excited for the months of adventure ahead.
When our French and American professors entered, we quieted. As Monsieur spread out his lecture notes, Mr. Coates moved forward and began to climb the thick rock steps. He approached my roommate, Michelle, and I, leaned forward, and whispered to me, “Dave called, and wants you to know that he loves you.”
My college beloved, who had just begun an internship in Paris, had tracked down my professor’s home phone, in order to relay the message. (Reminder: 1984 was pre-cell phone; in order to make a call in this modernized, yet medieval city, one had to visit the single post office and wait in line for a booth to become available.) As I heard the words and envisioned my boyfriend, my heart split open, and the tears began to pour. My professor put his hand on my shoulder, and I said, “It’s okay, I just miss him…”
As class got under way, Michelle snuggled in close. I continued to weep silently, bundled into my coat and scarf, as the back-and-forth of students and professors filled the musty air. I spent the next 45 minutes trying to resurrect myself and participate, to no avail; eventually, as class ended, I came up for air. I slowly descended the steep steps; although heartache accompanied me, its acuity softened as I moved forward.
When I remember my young, anguished self, or recall the weeping man from the television program, I think of what I would want both of them to know: “This moment will become a memory…”
It can be all too easy to allow emotions resulting from an event or interaction—or from feeling the absence of a loved one—to linger and find a home within. This is when grief or fear or anger or hopelessness become one’s “story.” When one acknowledges, however, that the moment of actual pain has passed, and that Life has moved along nonetheless, one can begin to access foundational strength. As we sense that the ground underneath us is as firm as ever, we can glide into the unfolding of Life with courage and insight garnered from the challenging moments.
The following short practice may be called upon when in the midst of emotional pain, or in the hours, days, or weeks thereafter. The movements activate the First, Fourth, and Sixth chakras; the full-body mudra consolidates the newly energized feelings of stability, self-love, and insightful clarity; and the closing meditation with mudra connects you to an overall feeling of peace.
To begin, come into an easy, cross-legged posture for Body Drops. Typically, the exercise is used to train the nervous system’s ability to handle shock. In today’s practice, we use the movement to reset and stabilize the system, so that any emotional overwhelm has a place to quiet down. With your hands by your hips, lift the buttocks off of the ground, and quickly release yourself down with a thump. Find a quick, consistent rhythm: inhale up, exhale down. Continue for 26-52 drops.
Next, extend your legs straight in front of you. Cross your wrists over your heart; the arms rest against the body, with the fingers angling up toward either shoulder. Inhale here, then exhale forward and down. This is a moving forward bend, which will activate the Life Nerve in the back of the legs. (If necessary, place a rolled blanket or bolster under your knees, so that you can move freely and comfortably.) As you cradle the heart and move the torso forward and back again, you gently bring your Heart energy back into the flow of Life. Inhale forward, exhale back, repeating 52-108 times.
Now, come onto your belly, resting your forehead on the ground. Interlace the fingers behind your back, stretching the arms straight behind you. Lift both legs off the ground a few inches; keep the forehead down, with your closed eyes focused on the Third Eye. If you would like, practice this exercise one leg at a time, switching halfway through your time. Begin Breath of Fire, head down, arms stretched back, leg(s) up: Continue for 1-3 minutes.
Then, shift back into Baby Pose. Make fists of your hands, and stack them one over the other, pinky sides down (as opposed to palm sides down). Rest your forehead on the top fist; the Third Eye should rest near the thumb. In this position, breathe long and deep for 1-3 minutes.
To end the routine, sit in your favorite meditation posture. Curl the pinky fingers into the palm, holding them down with their partner thumbs. Extend the remaining fingers, keeping them together; place the three of the left hand over the three of the right. Rest the mudra in your lap, eyes closed, breathing normally. Sit quietly in the rooted, clear inner environment that you have created for yourself. Immerse yourself in the calm for 5-11 minutes.