Lesson from a Down Day: The Connection is Always Right There.

I’ve been in an unpleasant state on and off for a while…one could say subdued..lethargic…sometimes touching on existential gloom- forgetting my true nature. In my mind I hear my teacher saying,”Just go to the mat- even if it’s only 20 minutes a day- tune into your breath- the source of all things breathing you.” That’s all it takes to stay connected and aware, right?
But sometimes that home practice isn’t enough and you must get into the studio and gratefully fall into the hands of another’s rhythm, and just flow. So today was a studio day- the ritual of getting my stuff together, burning fossil fuels, arriving early…I was in Larkspur, sitting in the lush cushy couches, perusing the coffee table books… and still more than a little grumpy.

I look down, and there’s a book on the table called Unstuck and it’s got a bright red cover, and I can’t resist shiny baubles, so I grab it. It’s by a medical doctor, James Gordon, but one who comes with a full quiver of alternative modalities and mind-body tools.

The book is a really interesting read, with specific how-tos for leveraging exercise, yoga, meditation, cognitive games, other things to overcome depression and that general stuck feeling- in a highly specific, personalized way. While much of it is common knowledge, his voice and approach are really clear and compassionate without any condescension. He frames life’s down periods not so much as a disease, as much as a natural reaction to life. He doesn’t dismiss western pharmaceuticals, offering good data on drugs- on how the brain and neurochemistry work- and also on herbs, alternative therapies. I was mostly impressed with the holistic logic of his treatment approach, and some of the super practical behavioral and perceptual ideas to handle specific negative feelings.

For example, one exercise was on feeling disconnected, a bane of many people who live and work in isolation, young moms, the elderly. So he talks about practicing connection. And about putting yourself in a place to connect and then breathing in, and allowing what happens to happen.
So after an entrancing flow class with the wonderful Christina Forth, I sat back down on the couches. And just was present, allowing the world to come in, not continuing to self-sever, to cut off from others and be in my head. And lo and behold, so did Christina. A gentle and meaningful dialogue ensued- on women and yoga, language, service field trips, the joy of using the linear brain in legal work or business, child bearing, “reentry”…exchanges of contacts. She really is a delight.

I was reminded that just on the other side of disconnection is conscious presence and listening and allowing, helped by conscious awareness and lots of deep breathing. Go to the mat, practice off the mat- it’s a short distance between where you stand at any given moment and remembering who you truly are.

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