A slight breeze swept across the flow of sweat that had covered my body.
The sweet torture of the work magnified even the slightest movement of air across my skin, highlighting the beauty of nature’s hand in every corner of my Being. Inhaling deeply I set myself to another set, another round, and the sweetness of the work my body was doing to cleanse my mind and renew the understanding of this, my physical self.
No judgments beset me as the sweat poured off of me to the ground below. Surely the grass beneath me found the salty taste of my work not to its liking. Surely the Earth would reject the bitter effect of my labor even as the Universe within embraced each and every moment. Surely as my muscles strained and my body shook in the heat of the Sun all that is in this moment would see a value to it all. The Universe knows Itself in such a challenge; when utter devastation wreaks creation, where utter chaos offers itself to the beautiful order of things.
Chaos is nothing more than the mind playing tricks with what it cannot understand.
Beyond the human mind chaos does not exist. This I see in the effort I am in as my mind creates havoc in the burn and the stretch while the Universe simply allows it to be. It is as it must be everywhere but in my mind, and as the Soul’s river works there flows a beautiful sound that suggests I am alive. The stillness after the effort allows me to hear that river flow majestically through the forest of my mind into the valley of my Soul. Out of chaos comes order, and out of experience we find there is no chaos at all.
As I gazed upon the Earth in this pose I noticed everything. I saw a tick crawling toward my firmly stationed hands as my sweat rains down all around it. My mind screamed “get away!” as I focused on this predator. It’s hungry. It needed nourishment just as I do. It smelled the sweetness of my blood through the air and it thirsted for a bountiful meal. My mind suggested that I was too good to be this lowly being’s meal. It could hurt me, it can could me pain. Who taught me that? Certainly not the Universe. Certainly not the tick. No, someone somewhere along the way taught me that ticks were horrible beings, that they must starve if we are to survive. Maybe it was through them that I learned the same thing about people.
I can remember having ticks pulled off me as a child, and burned. I remember wondering if they felt pain as the flame enveloped their tiny being. They looked so ugly, yet so delicate as they perished, my blood still coursing through the body I saw. Somehow I was one with them, and they one with me. We were inseparable, and as they vanished from this place a part of me vanished with them. Yes, there was a remorse in this cycle of nature that only a being who could see it would feel. This tick was just doing what the Universe demanded. It had no choice, it had no alternative. I did.
I raised my head and look at the trees in front of me, the approaching tick no longer a concern. If it could get me it could have me, and is I should see it I would remove it and let it go on its way. Yes, I had a choice, and my choice would be to not harm anything in this moment, not even the grass now supporting my weight. The Universe had decided to challenge me in many ways during this asana, and in one challenge it was to push the envelope of my mind toward acceptance; to make order out of the chaos. I smiled as I changed poses in time with my breath, the sweat now heading in the same direction but from a different place. I looked up at the cloudless sky and felt myself go there, following my outstretched hands to the very ends of my understanding.
“I am alive.”
I noticed birds soaring high overhead as I melt into the pose. A hawk circled high above me, perhaps believing I am nothing but a next meal. What did it see? A man working to hold a pose in the high heat of a summer day? A man struggling to understand himself in the valley of his life? A dead man not quite in the knowledge of his end? I wondered as I wished I could talk to this magnificent bird of prey. Tell me, my friend, what do you see when you look at me from your perch in the sky? What do you see when you see any of us men scurrying aimlessly about? How could you help me be more like you and less like me?
I switched back in time with my breath. My mind seemed to be screaming at me that there must have been a million ticks now aiming for various part of my body. In the pose I settled the drunken monkey back to more meaningful tasks. I could feel the sweat run down my head and drip off my face. I could feel it run like a morning dew down my arms which were now supporting all of me. I could sense nearly ever stream, every drop, every bead of me run down like water from a stone. My mind suggested that the grass was screaming at me to get away from it. How it hated the stringent taste of my work. How it despised holding my weight where I deemed it must. My Soul suggested something different. The grass beneath me loved me more than my mind did. It accepted my sweat with joy. It took on the weight of my struggle with an acceptance my mind could never fully comprehend. The grass wanted the experience of me even as much as my mind seemed to reject it. Yes, the yoga here wasn’t just me and my body, or me and my Soul, or me and my mind. It was a simple understanding that everything is yoga, everything is united and only separated by the drunken monkey those who killed ticks taught me was the only thing that mattered.
“I am alive.”
Switching to the other side and gazing back up at the sky I noticed the hawk had flew away. Or perhaps he never existed to begin with? All I knew is that he was no longer there. Maybe he had decided that I was not among the dead or dying yet, and that there were easier things to munch on. Perhaps in his yoga he had seen that his needs could be met elsewhere, or everywhere, or nowhere. Either way, I followed my outstretched hand once again beyond the bright blue sky into the space. I could almost see the light come out of my fingertips and flow freely out there, toward a place I so wanted to visit. I wanted to see what the Sun saw, but I also wanted to see the Sun as just another dot in the horizon.
I wanted to know the entirety of this place and the smallness I could see that allowed me to understand the enormity of who I was.
Someday, but for now my body screamed at me to end my practice, and to find peace in the work I had done.