Friday, March 4, 2011

Stumbling Along the Eight Limbed Path

I'm a sprinter, not a distance runner. I learned that during high school when I decided the Cross Country team would be a neat idea. It wasn't the usual geeky club thing I gravitated toward - like Honor Society, Spanish Honor Society or helping run the school newspaper. It was a sport, a real sport in which you tested your physical endurance and ability to go the distance each and every day.

Going the distance has always been difficult for me. I am constantly distracted by shiny things along the path and veer away from the task at hand when it becomes a little uncomfortable or downright scary. I can be pit bull-like when I want to be, but mostly I flit along in my own little world until I realize I've gotten way off track.

Needless to say, when I first heard Yoga described as the Eight Limbed Path to enlightenment, I got a little nervous. Eight limbs would give me quite a bit of wiggle room to get side tracked and I needed no help in that department.

Fast forward almost six years and one could argue I've gotten so off course no map could possibly locate me. But, I think that happens to us all. We get lost in the every day and that's ok as long as we're living in the moment and not drowning in it.

In an effort to understand my own choices and my path I decided to re-read Yogi Rolf Gates' inspiring book (from 2002), Meditations from the Mat: Daily Reflections on the Path of Yoga.

When I first read it I was a bit lost and wanted to take a day by day look at this path I'd chosen to follow - not as a writer, a daughter, a sister, a mother or a wife, but as a woman searching for her true self.

It's amazing what a few years will do. I am now getting an entirely different message from the essays Gates weaved together which number 365. I read one per day (I'm on day 59) and notice how insightful this man truly is. He understands that yoga is not about what poses you can pretzel yourself into, it's about showing up on the mat every single day. Showing up for life and being present.

I should've done this re-reading sooner, but I realize that was part of my path - to pick this book up a few years later and try it on for size again. It's a way for me to see how far I've come and the distance I still have to go.

Oh, and about that Cross Country team...I caught Mono and never did finish a season. But, my sister did. She stuck to it four years, improved each year and even lettered.

She's always been an inspiration to me, just as Gates' book is. I keep stumbling on this yogic path, but I am committed to follow the path wherever it finishes. Maybe I will share my insights as I make my way through.