It started with a standing back bend.
Actually it may have started with someone else’s back bend.
In yoga, a woman in front of me and to the left, bent back so far she fell out of a standing back bend.
I was completely blown away that she let herself fall out. Our instructor tells us to do it this way every week, but I always ignore it. “Let yourself fall down backwards”. Um, sure thing….right after I develop the ability to grow seven feet tall at will. I simply click on that phrase in my mind and drag it right into the trash. Doesn’t Apply To Me. I’m Not There Yet. Maybe Someday.
The student who fell was congratulated enthusiastically for taking the risk and the letting go that it took to bend that far. But before she could even attempt to let her body find the posture, her mind would have had to become more flexible.
I realized that I wanted what she had.
Later, in the last savasanya, or meditation, I heard a guide clearly speak to me. “How do you know what the Will of the Universe truly is for you, if you aren’t willing to embrace chaos?” Suddenly it seemed that I had gotten it completely wrong. My whole life I have struggled to attain perfectionism. Or barring that, coming close. And that posture had failed me. The striving toward whatever I determined perfection to be in any given interaction, appearance, or moment, had only led me further into illusion. And an arbitrary one at that. I had used my intention toward improving myself like a weapon. I had invested in the randomness of my ego.
Then it occured to me, “What if I directed my energy, time, and resources toward…well, toward….mess? Toward falling down in front of others? Toward a governing principle more chaotic than tidy? More rough than polished?”
I thought about that fall solidly for the next two days, until my next yoga class. I dawdled and almost made myself late, because inside I knew the gig was up. I had just waved the perfect me goodbye. I was going to embrace not only the posture, but my body’s ability to find it. I was actually going to let myself fall down in front of everyone!
I already knew muscling my way in wouldn’t work, so I wouldn’t try to do the back bend. I would just accept that the posture would be entered into completely freely and as a consequence there was a good chance I would end up flat on my tush.
I didn’t fall. But I went so far, so deep, and so free that I came out of it shaking. The sound of a paradigm shattering in my ears.
I experienced every other posture that followed the exact same way. The constant shaking was not a result of the effort, because there was none. I simply allowed my mind to consider that I could do what I previously thought I couldn’t. And I literally shook free of my expectations of myself, which I saw were whimsical at best, and frequently not in my best interest.
Immediately after class I started looking for daily chaos, knowing I would find more divinity in it than in the order I had been striving for. I saw things out of my control as a high-five from the Universe. My kids acted up and I responded with love and humor. I walked into the living room that I had cleaned five minutes before and found it trashed, and smiled. My schedule changed daily (it never went to plan anyway) and I, gasp, rolled with it.
Instead of turning into the hole in the donut, I felt more present and accountable to my life. I just wasn’t so invested in any particular version of it.
Sometimes the chaos shows up immediately (children who won’t get out of bed and are crabby when they do), and sometimes it ebbs and flows throughout the whole day or week–but I am embracing the new posture. Chaos to me just means, “not my script”. I’m letting my mind embrace the chaos, the falling down, the backwards feeling, the unravelling of the tight feeling in my chest….and I am shaking for sure, but I am smiling a lot more too.
Universe, I am truly in your loving hands. I have finally given you permission to write my life straight with crooked lines.
Now I’m going to go unclean something.