I hadn’t been taking enough time to bow out.
Yes, I’d been bowing to my students before and after class, acknowledging the energy within them and around us in that space, all of us sitting in front of a wise Buddha statue and glowing white candles, held up by orange yoga mats, a dark wooden floor, silently woven intentions. But I had forgotten to bow-out in the rest of my life. Not the bowing out where you remove yourself from places or situations hastily, but the kind where energetic acknowledgements are made (a smile, a nod, a bow, a side crow curtsey) to note to ourselves that we’ve ended our presence and focus in one space, so that we can mindfully step out with both feet, and heart, into the next. Flow with awareness and intention and deliberation into the other pieces of our lives.
It had all been blurring together-the way summer into fall tends to do-like a mercurial watercolor painting, teetering on the edge of delicacy and muddy obscurity. Making the individual experiences hard to distinguish. And the slowing down isn’t easy. It brings along with it the fear of what might come up if we lose our rhythm, fall out of sync with momentum—that way it has of carrying us inside itself, something with walls to hold our bodies up, inside the cavernous spaces of our lives. And we sometimes wonder what might happen if we actually *landed* in those liminal spaces and transitional places that exist around and in-between the scheduled times.
It sometimes is like startling at your own shadow: noticing your visceral presence more fully, inhabiting your humanly form while your dedicated legs move their way around, carrying your body where it needs to go. But magic exists there too if you can allow yourself to wade in gently. Pass through the anxiety and self-questioning with a life jacket of compassion and a smoke signal of patience and surrender into those moments of being soul-led.
Awareness has the ability to open you up to presence, that dharma of small daily things. The smoky bean taste of your morning cup of coffee, the wetness of your hair plastered to your cheeks when you’re caught in the unexpected October rain, in red nail polish mixed in with your sun salutations, and in the morning salutations exchanged with the war vet in jeans and silver dog tags who stands on the street corner outside Dunkin’ Donuts every morning as you pass by. In the way your breath rises up above city concrete and car horns usher in the day, alongside the fog of white sewer steam and tall city buildings. All before the day transitions into night and a purple-grey sky then becomes the most poetic of backdrops to the weathered stones of churches, and the street corners you just journeyed thru.
Joyce Carol Oates once said “Stories come to us as wraiths requiring precise embodiments,” and I think our lives come to us in the same way. Requiring us to step into them, and ourselves more fully, with knees of penitent and pliable gratitude as best we can.
Let’s not forget to bow out so we can wade back in.