Photo by Lula. Garudasana
We met with a friend to walk together through the lockdown town one late afternoon. We should not have – technically speaking – but we haven´t seen each other for months and spring is in the air. The little romantic Terboschen park is full of kids and parents and grandparents, the gardens of Abbey de la Cambre are less crowded, but people are more than present, around the Ixelles lakes, the same. I resist to give opinions on how to behave in the strangest of times, there is no receipt, I would say. The weather is dazzling spring luring beautiful.
Liana is telling me a story that happened in the self-service bank late February: a woman withdrew quite a lot of cash, a stack of fifty and twenty bank notes. A different customer was having trouble to get any money out. A beggar was observing it all, Liana too. The woman with the money offered a fifty to a seemingly stressed woman with no cash and.. after a moment of hesitation, gave her another fifty: Here, if that is of a help. It certainly is. Then, leaving the bank, she gave a twenty to the beggar. This was pre-dystopic times, the virus still far away in China. We discuss it with Liana – the symbolic of money. As Yuval Noah Harari writes, we are the only species who agree that a piece of paper represents a certain value. Money can be so comforting – in cash, on the account, received, apparently, also given away. We are standing under the trees, spring light shimmering through bare branches, grey stones of medieval monastery at the backdrop. Magnolias blossom early this year. It is a decision to see life as full of symbols and meanings, to live life with the freshness of the present moment. Liana commented on the bank story: I took it as a sign, life is generous, no need to be afraid of changes.
Yoga classes have moved online, temporarily, I hope. A new experience. I set it in my apartment – a mat, a brick, a blanket, a candle, the usual stuff, change the embassy clothes for a t-shirt and slacks. I ring to the group and see familiar faces popping up on the screen, vaguely taking in the backdrops of living rooms I have never visited. Then we switch the cameras off, I do not see them, they do see me, we feel each other. The pace is slower, more words used to precise instructions, we root and fly and twist and open, focus on breathing, on the awareness that breath is a gift. A fifteen-minute meditation to round the session: courage, trust, regeneration capacity, hopefulness, abundance. I have never felt this much gratitude for being able to guide a yoga sequence in my life. Another gift. After an hour and a half, the cameras are on and we look at each other for a moment, then let go.
The body is capable of incredible shifts. Yoga requires patience. For the first time I can join fingers in the head-of-a-cow pose – I have been working on it for months. One side is better than the other, as it goes, today, for the first time, I touched the tips of fingers on the stiffer side. Hilarious.
Physical abilities, as well as mental resilience, come as a fruit of a steady practice. And both come with acceptance of what is: what is the reality of the present moment. It includes sadness and doubts, clumsiness and silly remarks uttered without thinking over a coffee, it includes warmth and the silent joy of being around beloved people. It includes… Attentiveness to all.
Observing the present situation: Quite a few people say they enjoy the slowing down, the no need to wake up with the alarm clock, no need to commute and run from place to place; they enjoy to simply be and go for a walk to the river or woods everyday and shopping only once a week. I see some people lost without having a clear structure, hierarchy, orders to follow. Observing all, it is clear the pandemic situation bears lot of messages and signs.
With love to all you who share the experience of yoga, who share Love and Life. With gratitude to all in helping professions, mostly to doctors, nurses and caretakers.
So far my favorite article on the world in this crisis from Y.N. Harari.
A recently discovered inspiration: Charles Eisenstein
And a quote from the book I read for comfort over and over. Yoga enables me to feel exactly the same:
“Bailey feels oddly at ease. As though he is closer to the ground, but taller at the same time.” (Erin Morgestern: The Night Circus).