“Sorrow looks back. Worry looks around. Faith looks up.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
Mondays are my day. Mondays are my day to sit at my computer, in our home office and pay bills, write payroll and stew. I’ve been doing this job for over 30 years for our dry cleaning and laundry business in Iowa, and anyone who knows me well, steers clear of me on Mondays. When our kids were growing up they were careful about interrupting my deep concentration, even though my “office” was located in the epicenter of our home. It may be a character flaw on my part, or possibly a learning deficit, but I can’t play with numbers and carry on a conversation at the same time. I am naturally skilled at walking and chewing gum, but evidently, that’s an unnecessary talent.
So, it was on a recent Monday, while I was ankle deep in my bookwork that my husband called to chat. Considering the chaotic condition of the day, the month, possibly even the year we were experiencing, I found his light-hearted chatter incredulous. “You don’t sound good,” he said. “Well, there’s this,” I said, “and there’s that, and did you forget about the other thing?” I eased into my rant. “And to top it off, I woke up with vertigo this morning and saw one of our dear, burrowing owl neighbors smooshed on the street.” I was not having a good day. My husband came back with, “Everything is going to be fine.” Seriously?
Mondays are also my day for beach yoga. I teach every Monday night and I consider the contrast of dizzy accounting and calming stretches a perfect balance for the start of my week. But on this Monday, as I headed down the beach walkway I realized the wind was going to be a factor. More than a factor, maybe. Pressing my way against the gusts, I found it hard to walk, and had to hold my gear tight to my body to keep it from flying away. Hmmm…probably no one will show up for practice tonight, I thought to myself. I guess I hadn’t quite shaken off my office vexation. But as soon as I reached our spot on the sand, the first student blew toward me. We sat on our mats so they wouldn’t go airborne and had a nice chat. Soon, another sweet yogi joined us. And then another. We started class with four strong yoga practitioners, armed with enthusiasm and inner calm. I toyed with the idea that we wouldn’t be doing any standing balance in the blustery conditions, but they wouldn’t have it. They stood on one leg, they balanced in side plank, and they held their ground through the sandblasting. When class was over I was blown away, figuratively speaking. These four individuals didn’t worry about weather conditions being right for yoga. They came to the mat like any other day and had faith that their yoga practice would guide them to the stillness and steadiness they sought.
I went home that Monday evening with new conviction. I think my husband is right. Everything IS going to be fine. Hours later I fell asleep easily and enjoyed a deep restful sleep, until a persistent commotion woke me up. My husband was tossing and turning. I could tell by the sound of his heavy sighs that he was laying awake. “You OK?” I asked. “No, I can’t sleep.” he replied. “I keep thinking about this and about that. And what about that other thing?” He croaked in frustration. “Everything is going to be fine,” I assured him. “Close your eyes and follow your breath. You can sleep.” And he did. I know he slept because it was my turn to lay awake. My brain had started to fill with the next day’s “to-do” list and a little adrenaline infusion. The “baton of worry” had been passed yet again.
Did you ever play the game “hot potato” as a child? It probably actually started by tossing a potato, but we were sophisticated and used a ball. You didn’t want to be holding the ball when the music stopped or you were eliminated from the game. Well, the “baton of worry” is kind of like that. No one wants it, especially not in the middle of the night, so I did what my yoga instinct prescribed. I rolled out of bed and went to my yoga mat. I knelt down in Child’s Pose, with my forehead to the floor, and I breathed all the excess thought and disquiet that plagued me, into the space of my darkened living room. It only took a few moments to unload the “worry baton” and stumble back to bed, where once again, sleep came easily, and life was back on track.
Yoga is a powerful tool for me. It’s a Guidebook for Life. Practicing yoga doesn’t ward away problems or safeguard me from danger. I still get cranky and frustrated and I continue to eat chocolate. But practicing yoga in the forms of breath, and meditation and mindful movement, provides me with alternatives. I have learned ways to cope and to calm and to simply observe when the stinky waste of life hits the fan of reality, so that I don’t always get caught up in the spray. Yoga practice directs the distraction of worry toward the clarity of faith. There isn’t room in our minds for both worry and faith. Yoga helps us choose wisely which one we allow to stay.
Laurie Kasperbauer, RYT 200, enjoys the spiritual and physical benefits of yoga practice and instructs both group and private classes. Laurie is also an active Florida realtor specializing in properties in Naples and Marco Island. She can be reached at Harborview Realty, 291 S. Collier Blvd., Marco Island, or by calling 712-210-3853.