Friday, May 2, 2014

Regardless of circumstances


~52 miles to Daytona Beach
~20 miles to class at STAR Family Shelter

In 42 days I have seen and been in many situations, and with each one and with each new road traveled, I can honestly say "I have never been here before."

I've been in a motel, in a Penthouse suite, in my own bedroom with a piano, on the couch in someone's living room beside the TV, on the wooden floor with no covers, in towns with no development, in towns that have been overdeveloped, through country roads with no sounds permeating but my own breath, through fatally busy roads with exhaust and chaos, in city streets with prostitution and heroin, in beach towns with Yacht clubs and an endless Atlantic, in towns stamped with labels 'organic' and 'healthy,' in towns where the only thing to eat is gas station "food" and Burger King, in homes with tension and fighting, in homes with calmness and compassion, through stretches where no one has yet seen a cyclist traveling, through stretches where it's common to see cyclists passing.

And though my situation be new and the roads unfamiliar, there is one thing I am certain: circumstance influences one's experience.

Obviously the goal is to learn to live like a lotus flower; at ease in the muddy waters it lives in, rising above the manifestations and challenges of the material world. But it is much easier to practice patience from a cave. And it is much easier to practice yoga and meditation (these things are not separate) when conditions are in our favor.

So, in 42 days my conditions have changed countless times. My path is now mainly Scenic Route A1A. There is usually a bike lane. The Atlantic is usually my left-wing companion. Sometimes there are snakes in the bike lane. Often there is a roadkill assortment of armadillo, possum and birds.

Throughout this journey, I've watched my practice of yoga and meditation (these things are not separate) shift between physical, subtle, mental, emotional and, at times, non-existent or dormant.

When I have space to claim and my environment is calm, it is easy to feel inspired to practice. When I am sleeping on the floor and there is fighting in the living room, I forget to breathe. Like I don't know how.

It is challenging.

I think it has been important for me to witness my fluctuating environment and the way in which it informs my practice for similar reasons as to why I always purposefully wear jeans to the classes I am teaching: to be informed of what it is like to move and breathe from the perspective of an individual who doesn't always have conditions in their favor.

Class in Daytona Beach was with youth from STAR Family Shelter. ~5 students, ages 4-10

Sometimes when I'm chatting with locals, they say, "You're going to ______ Street?" or "You're going to ______ neighborhood?" I nod, uninformed, and they say, "Be careful." 

I suppose part of the blessing of being uninformed is I don't hold a bias of where I'm going.

So I ride my bike to class an extra 10 miles from where I'm staying in Daytona Beach, and of course I see where their hesitations and concerns derive from. There are police cars/sirens zipping down streets, people high on street corners, abandoned buildings everywhere. Already there is a vibe of tension in the air, and I havent even gotten to the class. 

I arrive to STAR Family Shelter and the same vibe is present. Yelling, screaming, tension. And that's where we start.

When people ask me my teaching style, I don't know how to answer because the way I teach is conditional upon the way a person learns. And everybody learns differently.

My challenge moving forward is to notice the different ways in which I "check out." When is my practice strong? When is my practice non-existent?

If I can correct the modality of my mind, I can correct the modality of my body (and vice versa).

And, regardless of circumstances, I can expand my practice of yoga and meditation (these things are not separate).

My two yoga studios for the day

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