It was in the bay-window apartment on Buchanan & Market St where my very first foray into yoga began. I'd just moved to San Francisco from Atlanta in 1997 and while there were yoga studios popping up around the city, I was reticent to approach them. I was a yoga virgin and rather than diving into public demonstration of downward dog, I chose a more closeted version...with a book from the library, emphatically calling "Let's Do Yoga!". So there I stood in my living room without even a mat, just me and the Indian guy with the wiry afro in crimson briefs guiding me page by page from one contortion to another. "Let's Do Yoga!" felt more like "Let's Play Twister..solo." As I hit Warrior I, the edge of my back foot 'rooted' down so much I ended up spraining my ankle. It was then that I ended my relationship with the one-dimensional guru.
I've been dreaming alot about trees lately. It began a few weeks ago with something that wasn't really a dream, but a waking vision. Something you see in your mind's eye as you begin to saunter back into consciousness. I was walking through a forest of silver birch trees whose leaves had left them for the winter. As I strolled through their naked presence, I heard them whispering to me. While I couldn't quite understand what they were saying, I knew I was amongst a forest of oracles. I've held tight and trusted that I would eventually get clarity on their message to me.
In indigenous cultures if a member of the community has an emotional or physical ailment, the entire community gathers the person and brings them to the shaman or medicine person of the village or tribe. They gather and collectively hold healing ceremony because each person has a role to play and each person is an integral piece in their community. So if one person is ill it is a threat to them as a collective. Can you imagine this happening in our society? What would happen if you fell ill, were admitted to the hospital and an entire city stopped what they were doing and held healing prayers and ceremony for you?
How many of these statements fit you?
“I feel tired in the morning, even after getting 7+ hours of sleep.”
“I get easily annoyed or agitate.”
“I feel exhausted most of the time.”
“It’s difficult to cope with with smallest of issues.”
“I have trouble making clear decisions.”
“I’m lacking the motivation for work, exercise, socializing, etc.”
“I have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep.”
“I wake up anxious.”
“I tend to over-react to everyday things.”
“I crave sweets, salty, fats and/or alcohol.”
If you checked 4 or more, chances are you’ve turned into the stress-monster. The tricky thing about the stress-monster is that you don’t grow two heads, (even though people may look at you like you have) your skin doesn’t turn green, and you don’t really grow fangs. The stress-monster is a sneaky, harmless-looking creature who wakes groggily out of their cave, rubs their bloodshot eyes, broods over morning emails with their cup of coffee and screams expletives in commuter traffic. The stress-monster is far too busy being stressed to worry about eating properly, grabbing a danish here, a sandwich there, perhaps a meek co-worker as an afternoon snack. Ending their day with takeout and half a six-pack, jumping back on their laptop, sneering at all the ‘happy people’ on Facebook, and finally dragging itself back to its cave only to have a very restless night.
A few years ago I was sitting on my patio in Sausalito watching a sailboat being blown across the bay. I witnessed as its sails billowed to the north then to the south, and back to the north again. The captain was certainly challenged on this blustery day, yet from a distance it seemed like an effortless ballet across the water. It was at that moment when I really got that life is all about polarities.