Meditations from the Mat

Dear friend Kate Abbott, yoga instructor and ultrarunner, recommends Meditations from the Mat, a collection of 365 short essays by Rolf Gates and Katrina Kenison. Rolf is a master teacher of yoga. His spirit — that Kate witnessed personally, in classes and workshops she attended — shines throughout this book. I'm not yet convinced that yoga is for me. Or maybe it is, but not right now. In any case, the ideas that Gates and Kenison investigate in Meditations are worth pondering. Maybe half are off-target, too narrowly yoga-centric or personal-historical. (Which half? Can't say, and it may vary over time!) Of the remainder, maybe half are too mystical or religious. (ditto!) Of the remainder, .... (ditto!)

And that still leaves a flock of powerful musings. Start the scrapbook with Day 28, reflecting on life as a journey, a quest for pleasure, success, community, liberation:

We all get stuck somewhere along the path. The good news is that eventually we find that we have no choice but to let go and move on. We may temporize, rationalize, attempt to compromise. We may denounce the system, we may even grieve. But finally we do begin to grow again. When my older sister died I fought against the loss for years. Even as I mourned her death, I railed against the injustice of it—she was too young, too bright, too full of promise and possibility to die.

At long last I came to the breakthrough point, the surrender. I realized that her life, and my fury, were truly over. She was gone, and if I really loved her, I owed it to her to ensure that her passing would bear spiritual fruit in my life. For that to happen, I would have to let go. The relief was profound. There was nothing left to do.

Like in Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club: "And then, something happened. I let go. Lost in oblivion. Dark and silent and complete. I found freedom. Losing all hope was freedom." Or some sentiments of John Darnielle in Woke Up New, about "the morning when I woke up without you, for the first time". That song concludes:

And the wind began to blow and all the trees began to bend
And the world in its cold way started coming alive
And I stood there like a businessman waiting for a train
And I got ready for the future to arrive

More snippets from Meditations on the Mat to follow ...

^z - 2013-07-20