Friday, July 10, 2009

Angelwings: (a yoga retreat rant)

The woodgrain on the doors swirled into the shape of two large angel wings. Inside, we were signing Krishna. We were writing Krishna. Here, we were allowed to feel too much. And I thought of Anais and Sylvia and Mira and burning stars and flying birds. Here, it was ok to have a mind like ours, that runs on treadmills or goes deep sea diving, scoring the bottom for pearls. Here it was ok to have a powerful mind, one that can be either a key or a dagger, depending on which way its held. The muscles are weaker when wielding the key toward the divine. We've been used to sharp things, like thoughts, turned inward.

Life is not that different here than in New York. There's still the daily diet of yoga and buddha bowls. Only trees outnumber cabs, a thousand to none. Here, it is yoga against the soft backdrop of sunsets and crickets and a lake that turns from aqua to navy. Here, the softness of the yoga blurs into the edges of pines. I miss the sharp spikes of Manhattan, and the way the yoga pops out there, against the backdrop of concrete and steel, soft overlaid on hard. If we lived in the country like this, a retreat would mean joining a punk band, making noise, building spikes out of our hair, to get that balance between soft and hard back.

Every morning I am thanking our gods for the coffee and brownies, though they're only spiked with stevia. I'm hearing Dharma Mittra breathe. Everything smells of lavendar, Dr Bronner's, and flax seed, like all these places do. I go everywhere in bare feet. I wonder if Dr. Bronner's is the key to enlightenment.

In the communial housing on the third night, it hits me, the silence. And I am reminded of the shuttle bus up here, leaving 32nd street in torrential rains. The bus driver explained the running rivers of tears down the right side of the windshield were caused by two screws missing and windshield wipers that no longer worked. I must have lost or broken something somewhere, because I felt the torrents inside, running, rushing black, and blue. The last year and a half, and the images in the shape of bodies I miss, searing my brain like sun-balls after eyes are closed on a mid-summer day. And the smells remind me of what I've lost, and the silence. Everything does, and I watch which way I wield my mind around these losses. I long for the wood angelwings to spring to life, to lift me up, but it is the middle of the night and I am not to be reborn until the next morning.

The next morning is sunscreen and spelt muffins. "One more loving time, family!" and we throw our arms up into victorious warrior ones, and twos. I always wanted to be like the Sylvias, but to survive, to touch the bottom and know it, but come up to tell about it. I wanted that strength to go deep, and then resurface, and live to tell. The exhales soften me deeper into the strength of my warriors. It is July, and I've been going through the going down for some time now. I press off my toes and fly into a crow. I see the bottom, I am flying through.

On the bus ride home, we surf waves of fields, silos standing like abandoned castles, reminding me of my rural past. The young years, when I did not want to be a dairy princess or in 4H, and was already planning days of soy milk and concrete wilderness and deep zen. I pull out this notebook and link the pens around my neck like a feather boa. The words dye the holsteins outside my window a rich pink. I rebuild what was given to me, like memories, tears, like land and cattle. The land curdles under the bus tires as we cross the Massachusetts border into New York. I am searching thin pages like the back of upstate libraries, uncovering seeds of hipster dharmic punk in the silence. I am replanting, until the land is covered by a sheath of silver-gray concrete and we roll into Spanish Harlem and it feels like home. I am talking with Krishna, hoping my city will always be cut by grains of farm soil, that all my warriors will see the bottom and soar through. Dharma is breathing out the back of the bus, and we are back where we began, but it is different.