Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. Carl Jung
I loved my early mornings in Boulder. And because I’m an eastern-time-zone girl who spent Thanksgiving weekend with family at the edge of the Rockies in Colorado-mountain-time, I woke up early, before the sun did, hopped into our rental, and, each morning, bright-eyed and alone, drove down Broadway, past Walnut and Pearl, to Alfalfa’s, the hometown version of a Whole Foods. And I became a regular during our four-day visit, one of the very first customers to walk through those automatic doors as they opened at seven. And each morning, I rushed past the fresh-cut flowers and wreaths, past the check-out lines, the vitamins, the breads and deli to my own version of a morning espresso. It was the juice bar that drew me in and the shot of ginger that made my hair stand on end. As my new young friend with the three-day beard and friendly smile shoved the leafy greens and apples and lemons into the juicer for my Dirty Nico that would follow, I swigged down my shot of fresh-squeezed ginger. It’s a great way to start a morning. Ginger wakes you up. You feel it as it rushes its way from head to toe. It grounds you and enlivens you and is a perfect prelude for what I did next each morning. As the sun rose over the fields and the red-roofed buildings of the University and the Boulder Flatirons that edge the Rockies, I walked on my own two feet, felt them connecting with that Colorado sandstone beneath me.
On Saturday, in the brisk thirty-degree dawn, I pulled the car into Chautauqua Park and hiked on the narrow path through the field that led up to the flatirons and the multitude of rocky trails. As I tromped uphill, filled with the ginger and the juice and the excitement for the day that stretched out before me, I could see my breath puffing through the air and I could hear my heart pumping and my body felt prickly, lively, as it worked to keep itself warm. And thirty minutes later, standing on a piece of that flatiron rock, I found it, what I’d been looking for, the sun, as it peeked up over the cliffs in front of me, as it spread itself wide, as I opened my arms and welcomed it with my breath, as I felt myself secure on the earth in my new hiking shoes, and a part of this wide no-clouds-in-the-sky blue blue sunny day. “Good morning!” I said, out loud, with no one around me to hear. “Good morning!” I said, “It’s a good good day!!!”
This sense of alignment, this connection to earth and to sky, this feeling alive in our own bodies, standing on our own two feet, this is something I need, something I bring each week into the four sessions of yoga that I teach. And this week, after my Thanksgiving in the Rockies, I made it the highlight, the focus. And although I say these words in every session as we sit on our sitting bones with our eyes closed or offering a soft gaze, they felt more real, more alive to me because of my Thanksgiving walks. “Bring your attention inward,” I say. “All the way down to your sitting bones.” “You have strong roots,” I say. “Roots that reach down to the center of this amazing earth, that connect you to its core, and, from these roots, you draw up exactly what you need. Courage. Strength. Nourishment. And this energy rises through you, up, up, up through the crown of your head, in a golden thread of energy connecting you to the sun and the stars and the wide expansive sky.” As I say this, I really feel it. And then I continue. “You are that grounded and that expansive and that magnificent.”
I know in the core of my being that I need these morning walks. I know in the core of my being that it feels good to remember my alignment. I know in the core of my being that we do stand on our own two feet and that we are powerful and wise and we know what we need, and grounding ourselves keeps us from burning out or getting overwhelmed or blowing away. And. And, as I said the words this week in yoga, it was a delightful feeling in my belly to hear the soft breath of my fellow yoginis. I was not alone. And when we stood up later and marched around the room, stomping on the floor to our own drumbeat, it was fun to remember that we are a tribe. And when we spread our arms wide and stretched them behind us in yoga mudra, beaming our heart-beams out into the world, there was a connection between us that was palpable and beating in its own right. And yes, we were our own mountains, standing there in Tadasana, and we were also a range as gorgeous and expansive as those Rockies. Finding our own alignment, living from the inside out, is a gateway not only to personal empowerment. It is the gateway to the remembering that we are all connected, heart to heart, breath to breath, a part of the earth, the sky, a part of it all.
And so, I began my days, this Thanksgiving weekend, finding that alignment, strengthening it with ginger and juice and fresh morning walks. And then, the days, each one of the four days, opened up wide and full and bustling with family. I was not in Colorado to be alone. I was there to play with my husband and our two boys and their women and my husband’s mother, our kids’ grandma. And it’s the best, the very best, perhaps my life’s quest, to be able to feel empowered in my own two shoes, those new hiking shoes that feel as though I’m walking with my feet bare, to feel alive from the inside and stay connected to that feeling, in a crowd, a Thanksgiving crowd of others who I love, who have their own wants and desires and needs. It’s the best when you can feel empowered AND feel your love for this family while crammed in the backseat between a daughter-in-law and a mother-in-law in that very same car that you were driving just a few hours earlier. It’s the best when you can walk with the whole family on the same paths you hiked on that morning at dawn, when you can marvel at your mother-in-law’s spirit and spunk, the way she climbs into her own hiking shoes and keeps up with the family, and the way her son, your husband, and her grandson’s, your kids, cheer her on and love her beyond measure. It’s the best when you love these sons who are men now as they talk together, animated, lively and loud, in a quiet Zen shop, as they work to figure out where their feet will take them next, as you witness them and smile and know that they are empowered and that they will figure it all out. It’s the best when you love their women who are bright and powerful and fun to be with. It’s the best when, after the feast, you all sit down to a word game and you are relaxed and every one else seems to be relaxed as well, and there’s nothing you have to do, but laugh and love and let it all soak in.