It is safe to feel this alive! Yoganand
It was the darkest time of the year, in the early morning before the winter sun rose above the Berkshires, and, as I lay there, my bones heavy, my muscles relaxed, I could hear his words soak in deeply. “It is safe to feel this alive!” And, those years ago, in a sanctuary room at Kripalu Institute, a week into this session of the yoga-teacher- training, I knew that Yoganand’s statement was true: it was safe to feel this alive. Here I was, at the end of a pre-dawn session of yoga in a darkened room, sprawled out in stillness and I couldn’t have felt more vibrant. It was as though every cell in my body, and there are trillions of them, was lit up, plugged in, jumping up and down, dancing, even, with rock and roll-filled head-banging vigor. It was exhilarating. Rejuvenating. And I wasn’t DOING a thing. I was simply lying there, experiencing an inner concert extra-ordinaire. And in that moment, I did feel safe, safe to relax and allow this not-so-little light of mine to shine.
It is safe to feel this alive! And thank goodness for the practices that keep our body containers confident and strong enough to hold this waterfall-whoosh of unbridled life, that keep our psyches sane and relaxed, so we really can allow this energy to flow. I had been practicing yoga several hours a day for almost a week of yoga “boot-camp”, before my cells, the trillions of them, picked up their electric guitars and starting jamming. Earlier in the training, before really settling in, it was the calmness of a symphony or an Indian chant that my body was ready for, that my psyche preferred.
I have a picture of myself that I have enlarged into a poster, almost to life-sized proportions. I am four years old in this photo and it is summertime and I am sitting in front of the fireplace at our cottage. And I’ve printed the words, “I’m not too much for me!!!” across the sweat-shirted front of this younger version of Helen. And, as I look at her, at her over-the-top, tooth-missing-early-because-of-her-wild-ways grin, and her body-electric, plugged in, I can’t help but laugh. I don’t think, at this moment, she was too much for herself. I don’t think at this moment, I was too much for myself. As a little girl, I loved summer. I loved the pool of sun on our cottage porch where I’d sit in the mornings with my cat, Snoozles. I loved the sparkle on the cove at mid-day, the way I held on tightly to the ropes of my swing and pumped hard with my strong skinny legs, high up over the hedge and the clothesline to see that sparkle. I loved the way I scampered without shoes across the rocks and felt the prickle of barnacles on my bare feet. I loved the way I played for hours on our beach and splashed in its waters at high tide. My body-container grew strong during the summers of my girlhood and the ants in my pants found a way to wiggle with freedom and glee and I believe that I knew, in those summer months, that it was safe to feel this alive.
And, so what, if over the years, there also have been times, many times, when I’ve pinched off this life force, stuffed myself into a box that was too small, or felt myself ungrounded, prickly and static-clingy, energy flying this way and that with no focus or melody at all? So what?!?
We are ever-expanding beings, growing and growing and growing. And it’s a forward-focused growing game we’re playing and I’m learning more and more that I can plug myself in, say, “Bring it on, Universe! Bring on the feel-great envisioning, the next dream, the next opportunity to play! I’m not too much for me!!!” I think of the lobsters who live on the bottom of that cove that was the summer playground of my girlhood, how they, too, are ever-expanding beings, how, each summer, they shed their shells, then grow new ones that are a little bigger, new ones that they need to grow into. And, I don’t think they struggle with this growth. I don’t think they panic. I don’t think they say, “I just can’t grow any bigger. I don’t think I can take the next step, do the next thing, manifest the next dream.” I suspect they relax, allow themselves to grow into how big they’ve become. And I know that we can do the same. When we plug ourselves in – in all the ways we plug ourselves in – on those long walk in autumn leaves, on the ski trails of winter, in the kitchens, in the bedrooms of our homes, while patting our cats or dogs, while hugging a baby or an elderly parent, when we plug ourselves and feel ourselves safe and secure and strong in these body homes, we, too, can relax; we, too, can feel the thrill of our bigness, of our mighty ever-growing song, the one that only we can sing.
We, too, can say, “It is safe to feel this alive!” And how fun is that?!?