Blue Bloods

Peter and I have been catching up on the series “Blue Bloods”. It’s fun to see how often we say, to the hot-headed Detective Reagan, “Awwww Danny.”

“I have such a busy day tomorrow”, I said, keeping my eyes peeled to the TV.

“Wait. What?” Peter’s astonished response was very satisfying, (Thank you Lord for allowing me yet another successful dead pan delivery.)

“Kidding. I just miss saying that.”

It’s just about a month now that we’ve been here together 24/7. Make that 22/7. We spend about two hours apart each day. One of us is looking for porcupines and the other is trying to find the daggone leak in the roof.

I do miss making detailed lists for the days ahead. I have a crazy fantastic schedule…had.

I teach…taught…Aerial, Yin, Vinyasa, privates, exercise, dance and classes for kids. Every day something different. I have a calendar on my phone and by the phone. It takes organization to keep track of who, what, where, when, and how I’m teaching. Add to that my regular life duties including crossword puzzles, reading, writing, knitting and day dreaming: Busy, busy, busy.

Lists are essential so that the pieces of my life are jostled carefully, ensuring that nothing and no one gets short changed. Least of all, me.

These days my lists are different. Daily lists give way to an ongoing one.

* Make a better face mask, preferably one that doesn’t make my ears stick out.

* Find the necklace that was choking me in class six months ago.

* Clear out desk drawers. Do I really need four packages of blank CD-ROMs?

* Develop a porcupine yoga sequence for prickly adults.

* Go through photos. Maybe before and after haircut shots through the years should have their own album.

*Take wheels off my scooter and use them to replace the cheap plastic ones on my grocery bag cart. Then use the friggin cart.

* Check eBay and see if anyone’s buying vintage trophies for first place in the lead line class at the Bull Head Pond Horse Show in 1964.

Actually, I am kind of busy, but it’s different. The schedule isn’t as strict or mandatory. Taking care of the animals and watering the kale seedlings is about it.

I’ve been given the gift of time, the opportunity to contemplate what is making me feel anxious, impatient, sad or irritable.

How do I react when I don’t hear from family or friends, when Peter says “Dinner might be a bit later than planned”, when I think of those who are missing out on society’s major milestones, or when I realize that vacuum cleaners were made for a reason?

I’ve been given the opportunity to investigate my emotions, and to challenge myself to react and respond differently. What’s really important here? What is urgent? Urgency is slowly giving way to calmness, patience, compassion and understanding.

Like yoga, it is and it takes, practice.

The other night I had ridiculous dreams. Each time I woke, I sang silently Mary Magdalenes’ song from Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Jesus Christ, Superstar”:

“Try not to get worried, try not to turn on to

problems that upset you, oh,

Don’t you know

Everything’s alright, yes everything’s fine.

And we want you to sleep well tonight,

Let the world turn without you tonight.

If we try, we’ll get by, so forget all about us tonight.”

Make a list of things that you can take care of eventually. Make a list of things that you can’t do anything about. Note how you feel, how you react. Is it possible to let the world turn without you tonight?

If anyone should sing that song, it’s Danny Reagan. Talk about being anxious, impatient, sad and irritable.

Namaste- let’s try and stay calm today.

Short Cuts and Term Papers 

My friend Andi is a part time yogi and a full time mom. In addition she’s a writer, a horsewoman, a dancer and a speed-walker- slow-jogger. She also asks the best questions like, “Where are the short cuts in yoga? How long does it take to feel better, calmer, able to let things go?” I explained that unlike vacuuming, yoga is a steady, committed practice.

In college I was a master at shortcuts. I used the same three part, Mad Libs style, template for every paper I wrote. Each one started with the title,
“(Insert Chimpanzees, Sexism, Sign Language, Self Defense, Public Speaking or Ethan Frome here) of the Newer World”. This brilliant idea came after reading “Explorers of the Newer World” in an Encyclopedia Brittanica back in 7th grade. Some things just stick.

The second part was the content and I use the word loosely. 

The third was the summary, one line, “Thank you for your kind attention”.

I thought I was quite clever and I was also content with mediocre grades.

There are five Niyamas in the eight-limbed path of yoga. It’s basically a list of things to do. Santosha asks us to be at ease, appreciate and be content with what is. Sometimes  however, as in my case, it leads to complacency. 

It was easy to come up with a term paper topic at the last minute. I appreciated that editing was for English majors not me. I was also quite content with a passing grade until after I took an independent study self defense course in town. In order to satisfy the physical education requirement I wrote a quick paper. All my part-time sensei required was the class fee.
I received a grade much better than I deserved or expected. Of course I boasted about my “B+” to my instructor. Of course he wanted to see the paper. I couldn’t do it. I knew it was lame but I sure didn’t want anyone else to think I didn’t know it. Time to stop practicing fake Santosha.

Incidentally, all I have to do is remind Dee of my academic history and her concerns about my nieces’ schoolwork goes out the window. “Don’t worry so much; look at my pathetic papers; I turned out fine!”
Considering one of her college works was titled “My Life as a Black Man”, I’m not sure why she’s concerned about anything.

Santosha requires a little effort on our part. It requires a commitment to be our own true selves, our own best selves, by appreciating and accepting what is now. Looking back with regret or forward with anxiety isn’t part of the deal. This is the practice of yoga.

Sometimes our physical yoga practice is frustrating. One day we feel like tired old farmers and other days as nimble as monkeys. One month I may have to vacuum the kitchen twice instead of once. It comes down to being content with what is and what is not.
There are no short cuts, it is a continuous way of living and thinking. It’s enjoying the long haul.

Perhaps we could practice yoga, on or off the mat, the same way we write a thoughtful paper. 

Start with an introduction by taking inventory of ourselves, thoughts and circumstances. 

“This is how I feel and what I’m thinking.”

Then get into the important message, the content.

“The only thing that matters is that I pay attention to this moment.”

Wrap it up.

 “I’m content because I’m me and only me. I appreciate all experiences.”

Namaste- will this template ending ever go away?