After practicing yoga, the feelings and memories that bubble up can be so vivid. Even though we can spend a lot of time talking about the body in a yoga class, yoga is primarily about the mind. When a yoga practice is designed with the intention of bringing attention and focus to our complex and very distractable mind, and it works, it’s so cool to get a glimpse of what is in there.
This happened on Tuesday. Each Tuesday I participate in Jenn Wooten’s vinyasa class and it’s great. She’s great. She guides a class that helps me to go in—deep inside my body and organs and breath, and the focus that is required and that comes as a result of this practice helps me to feel things that I just might not feel otherwise. She does such a good job of holding space so that I can be there in the room with all those other people and all the messiness of my life and not be distracted by it. I end up with a focused, quiet and calm state. I appreciate her so much.
It was at the finish of all of this breath and focus, that I had this vivid memory experience. I was in ṣavasana, corpse pose, and I slipped into this non-thinking space. It’s kind of like amanda fell asleep or at least fell into the background, and then Amanda was still there, watching what was happening. My thinking, busy, outward-self went quiet and then there was space for the inner stuff to come out from the corners of my memories and mind and have a little room to stretch and yawn. And you are never going to guess what was there.
Yeah, I know. Kind of gross. There in savasana, my mind was totally focused on these big swollen ticks and all the little ones underneath. But it wasn’t gross to me then, at the end of class. It was actually kind of sweet, because with this tick-memory were the feelings of being a girl at my grandma’s house again, hanging out on her back steps with her two dogs. I was seeing those ticks as I did back then and I had the feeling in my body of being young and believing I could communicate with animals and caring for them by brushing them and pulling ticks out from under their fur.
My grandparents had a really cool old adobe house in Clint, TX. It started off small but over the years, they added room after room and by the time I came along, the house had this wonderfully mysterious and labyrinthine quality. The front yard was huge. My grandma kept beds of poppies, daisies, hollyhocks and irises and she had fruit trees and huge pecan trees, too. If you followed the yard around to the back, past the tether-ball pole, there was a walled in back yard. Within those walls lived two beautiful but neglected dogs—collies, I think. I can’t even remember their names.
These dogs weren’t really pets. They were dusty and unbrushed and kind of wild. They’d be so excited to see me or anyone else who went into their enclosure, that they’d huff and stomp their front paws on the ground and sort of half jump up. Sometimes they’d jump up onto me and their claws would drag down my legs leaving puffy red scratch marks. They must have been roasting hot in their long-haired coats in the heat of Texas. I remember asking my grandma about that. She said they were fine. I also asked why she had the dogs if she didn’t like spending time with them and she told me she did like them and she had them there mainly for security. They barked a lot when people came to that side of the house. I guess that helped her to feel safe.
When I spent the night, I would try to make up for the all the attention they didn’t receive. I’d go out with a brush and some ideas about how to train them, and eventually it would just come down to the ticks. I didn’t really want to deal with ticks, but kind of like Mother Teresa, I figured I had a duty to help these dogs out. Before long, I’d get so involved, it would be more like a treasure hunt than a duty. I’d pull a few of the big engorged, corn-shaped mama ticks out and then I’d look for the baby ticks that were underneath her. I’d use my grandma’s tweezers for those. I never did get around to telling her that I used the tweezers from her bathroom. The tiny baby ticks kind of looked like soft sesame seeds with grippy legs in the front and I remember pulling off those things and dropping them into a tuna can that I had found somewhere in the laundry room. They’d crawl around in the bottom of the can with those hook-like legs while they dragged their bodies behind them. For those tiny insects, that tuna can must have seemed like the bottom of a well.
As I laid there after yoga class, with a quiet body and mind, I didn’t want it to end. I was so engrossed in the feeling of being a girl again at my grandma’s house that I almost believed it. And I loved being there.