by Mona Keddy
This week I have had a head cold. Thankfully, I rarely contract a cold and so when it arrives, it reminds me of the many things I take for granted. Before the cold, I enjoy certain amount of energy and vitality without further consideration. I don’t recognize the ease with which I breathe in and out through my nose. I don’t think about sleeping uninterrupted through the night. I move through my life unconscious of my breath, body and energy. When on my mat and immersed in my yoga practice, I become more aware as I actively and attentively cultivate conscious breathing, movement and effort. I appreciate the gifts of body, breath and movement. Then, I step off my mat and the appreciation slowly slides away.
The cold then is a constant reminder. Breathing is not always easy, fluid and available. Interrupted sleep is not as restful. The things I have planned to do will have to wait. I remember how grateful I am for breath, energy and rest. It is the discomfort that reminds me of what I am often inconsiderate – the moment to moment gift of embodiment. Ideally, we would hone a state of constant appreciation of this gift and our yoga practice does move us in that direction. Unfortunately, sometimes, the reminders that we have this body as a home are through uncomfortable sensation or ill-health.
One my yoga / philosophy teachers, Bill Mahony, told this story as a metaphor for gift of embodiment:
Imagine the deepest and widest part of the ocean. At the bottom of this point in the ocean, imagine a turtle. At the ocean surface, imagine a lift saver bobbing with the waves. As the turtle slows swims to the surface, what are the chances that the turtle will come to the surface in the middle of the life saver?
We are fortunate to have this body, this embodied experience. It is a chance in a million. Yoga teaches us that all moments, all experiences are opportunities to remember this gift. We practice yoga to appreciate this body, breath and energy and even the contrast of discomfort is a reminder.