The nature of a river

I didn’t post last Thursday.  It was Thanksgiving here in the U.S.A. and we had a big, beautiful celebration with family and turkey and pies at our house. I sat down to write several times that week, but even though I love the holiday,  the things that came out weren’t Thanksgiving-ish at all.  They were kind of whiny. So I didn’t post. Plus, I have to admit, the last post left me feeling a little exposed and I needed some time to sit with that.  The stuff that I’m working with right now in my life/yoga world is getting right into my personal nitty-gritty and I have some mixed feelings about it.  Share with the world?  Hide in a corner? Today, something in between…

I had my appointment with my meditation teacher a couple of weeks ago and since then I’ve been doing the practice that he gave to me. This is leaving me feeling a little exposed, too, I think. I feel like I’m exposing myself to myself and I’m not sure I’ll like what’s under the trenchcoat.  I keep doing it because I also feel a strong and hopeful sense that something is going to come of it–something along the lines of insight and greater clarity. I hope it’s worth the angst.

In my meditation practice, I’ve shared that I have an affinity for mountains: solidity, protection, weight, groundedness.  With this in mind, my teacher suggested that I work with a river flowing from a sacred mountain as my object of meditation.  I picture and feel myself in the presence of a sacred mountain and imagine it is sending some of it’s divine nature directly to me through this flowing river.  Sitting down with this idea each morning, I find myself relating first to sacred mountain, enjoying the familiar sense of solidity, connectedness and earth.  I eventually get to the river and some days I’d have more of a river connection than others.  The river is always there, but the mountain still appeals to me a lot.

On one of these days, I had this shift happen.  I got to the mat: Asana—check.  Pranayama—check.  Mountain—got it.  River—there it is.  So I sat there with an image of the mountain (mine is mostly snowy peaked with the sun rising behind it) and then the clear flowing river that started coming toward me and underneath me.  This time the river was very important.  The mountain was there and was offering me this experience of the river.  The river allowed me to stay connected to the mountain, but for the first time, I had the sense that I didn’t actually have to be the mountain.

I didn’t have to take on the qualities of the mountain and embody a solid, massive, immobile, grand kind of expression, because the mountain was there doing all of that already. On this day, I was greatly comforted by the presence of this strong mountain, but I didn’t feel compelled to be mountainy myself.  Instead, I understood that I am more like the river.  It occurred to me that there is a fluidity to my body, feelings and experiences. I can have a connection to this divine mountain, carrying some of it along with me (silt,perhaps) without acting out the mountain’s part.  After all, a mountain does that so well.  I felt so light and so free to just be human without all the weight and solidity of a mountain. I felt like I didn’t have to fight against myself quite so much.  There was a small and sweet river-surrender.  And then the gratitude.  Part of my practice is saying, ‘thank you’ and on this day, I felt immense gratitude to the mountain, the river, to this practice of yoga for the freedom that I felt.  It was a “thank you” to this divine presence, God?, that I could sense and to whom I was speaking and to this commitment that I’ve made to flow with this life of mine and let it become what it is destined to become.

Wow.  So there it is: a little of my vulnerability and clarity. There’s even some God in this one.  It isn’t there every day, and it isn’t always pleasant, but there’s something in this practice to be seen and felt and known.  I’m pretty sure it’s worth it.

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9 thoughts on “The nature of a river

  1. “Exposing myself to myself and not sure what’s under the trenchcoat”…such a good description and made me laugh. Thank you for sharing your journey!

  2. Thank you for sharing such personal experience, Amanda. That is good teaching and helpful to the sangha, I think. I’ve discovered over the past year or so that I benefit from having at least one understanding person that I can blurt out most anything to. I think we all are guarded to some extent, and it really helps to let down the shields once in a while. It takes a lot of energy to protect and maintain the persona and to let it go can be a relief. It can be a relief to let someone see the river so that you don’t always have to be the damn mountain. I sometimes feel overexposed, too. And blogging is part of it – you want to be honest, but how much is too much? All I’ve got is this: I try to stay centered in my heart as best I can and just put it out there. I’ll feel like it’s too much about me, but I’ll keep doing it and try to keep it useful. Find a friend you unload with, and share what you can with the rest of us. You’re teaching good stuff. Thanks.

    1. David, I really dig your blog-osophy– Stay centered, put it out there and relinquish the results. I think Patanjali had something to say along those lines, too.

    1. When I find the moments of openness, there’s a sense of being with something essential, I think… not so much energy toward the peripheral. Thanks for your comment and for your beautiful blog. I’ve really enjoyed it.

  3. Opening yourself up and digging deep inside can be a scary thing….we don’t always like what we find, but it is definitely necessary for personal transformation. I love how raw and real this was, and I admire your courage in facing yourself. Thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable and honest in this post – I feel very honored that you shared this with your readers. xoxox

      1. I was actually sending a “virtual” one your way. I’m so happy to hear that you felt it! 🙂 xoxoxox

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