Dedicated to Julie, Jackie and Emily.
As a people person, I relish in connection. When my invitations to dinner bring people around the same table for the first time, yes.
When I think it is the first time and I hear “no, actually – we met before at that thing – at that party – at the market… you introduced us”, for sure.
But more than anything – I love when connection happens because of a different kind of invitation.
This different kind of invitation is a blend of willingness to try, willingness to ask and willingness to pay attention. It is an invitation to yourself that includes others. A precious kind of invite.
I simply must capture my experience this morning.
But first, a little context…
It is without doubt that my heart and my energetic world have been worked during the pandemic. Yet, even as I grieve and push through my things, I have my Target dates – the treasure of time at home, the privilege of social distancing, the opportunity for scenery changes – to show me continual silver linings.
I am experiencing a lot of blessing even in these “uncertain times”. Matter of fact, the degree to which things are uncertain tremendously graces the flux of this marriage season.
Being in the PNW for May is offering me space for a daily yoga practice and has opened margin for writing. This space and this margin inherently come with an invitation to myself to try a daily yoga practice, to be willing to journal this season. And, because I am continually praying for the fold of my circle, consideration of my people, along with the priority of my new tribe; the invitation to myself includes others.
So, today, I reached out to Julie who is sitting with heartbreak and holding space for pain daily. Who, though she may be experiencing similar silver linings in her own home, is also experiencing the not so similar under-linings in the homes of her families, whose communities are being rocked by COVID-19 and bit by virtual memorials.
I asked her how I could support her energetically today. Her answer, “Wisdom + Skill on navigating all the space I am holding”.
I told her I would dedicate my practice to her.
In the early moments of Jackie’s class, (btw – you should take one) Jackie offered to the class to dedicate your practice to somebody beyond you.
This is the connection that comes from the invitation to self that includes others.
That is willing to practice and pray and write and – in that intention – reaches out to a friend because you love them and that takes the role of student to a friend because you love them.
Jackie is warm, earthy and kind – Julie is raw, honest and fierce.
Then I remembered my sister, Emily. Principal of two schools in the city, she cannot hug my mother because of her daily food service to families. She is on frontlines of education + community + COVID.
Practice began and I smiled when we used Kali Mudra throughout practice. Kali… that dear transforming goddess who slays darkness, who takes the initial evolutionary step to light.
Then, something kind of funny happened, Jackie’s pace for breathing was quick and I found myself trailing by two breaths. I actually thought “I wonder if Jackie knows she cues fast, maybe I’ll send her a note”.
“Hey, Erin…” I said to myself, “You are a restorative teacher who – at max – does slow flow. Remember vinyasa classes? Remember that first vinyasa class you ever took? Maybe even your first ever yoga class that summer day in Michigan when you had an NDE? This is work. Breathe. Find your full, quick breaths.”
(I imagine Julie tickled by this, as a standard anchor in our understanding of each other is how she works harder than me, in her pursuits.)
How symbolic, yes? The ease of my quarantine to the effort of Julie’s and Julie’s families.
The silver lining of my cancelled wedding, to the heartbreak of deaths from this illness.
And – low and behold – I found my stride in my practice. When I realized “yes, this is work”, that I could stop, but that I would pick up the pace – in energetic solidarity to Julie and Emily. To people whose efforts know few, if any, immediate luxuries.
There was a flow towards the end that felt pretty and graceful, almost dance like. Which made me smile and think about creative freedom for Julie, that she taps into her party spirit.
And just as I thought – wow – this practice got really Julie focused, the playlist Jackie recommended kicked on some Enya.
Enya: The background music of Emily’s college years, of our roadtrips together. Every tone of every Enya song reminds me of Emily and I just started to cry during the last flow.
As Jackie cue’d us in svasana to bring back the person we dedicated our practice to – to feel the strength and the calm we conjured in our practice and send it to them; I realized what I conjured was not exactly strength and calm though I did feel the benefits of my practice.
But I especially felt shared heartbreak and exhaustion – along with the realization that I had the option to quit my yoga practice because it was hard but they can’t quit what they are doing and that’s hard so, “gosh Erin, breathe and flow.”
So… I laid on my back – more in energetic solidarity than ever – and sent them the sentiment of being seen.
Jackie said something along the lines of, “…what you send out, only doubles, and it reflects back on you – send your strength, let it double, and know you have that strength and more”.
And I laid there… feeling really seen.