Monday, March 4, 2013

On the Road Again

In the past week, I’ve had the opportunity (due to visiting my sister in North Carolina and my middle son in Pennsylvania) to spend a total of 36 hours driving in a car. For some reason, when I’m driving (or my husband is at the wheel) I seem to be able to do one of only three things: drive, sleep or think.
            Thinking, of course, usually leads to trouble, especially when I just can’t wait to get to where I’m going (or home again!). And as I watch the minutes clicking very slowly away on the digital car clock, it just seems like I will never get there. Being in the moment (the yogic way) is difficult because, well, let’s face it, driving in a car is a lot less fun than actually being with my sister or my son.
            Which brings me to the yoga pose: Triangle. I recall the first time I attempted this particular pose in my Iyengar yoga class. Having arrived at the class from a Vinyasa or flow tradition in which we gently flow from pose to pose—in no great hurry, but not exactly in a leisurely fashion, either—I was shocked when my Iyengar instructor called out, “Slow down! Slow down! Where do you think you’re going? What's the rush?” as I tipped quickly into the asana.
            Well, to the pose of course, I thought to myself. But then I remembered…ah…it’s about the journey whether it’s to the pose or to anything else. Why not enjoy the cows in the surrounding pastures, the clouds or stars in the sky, the Porsche that just passed us at 85 mph, the pistachio nuts in the bag, the Amish man in a carriage crossing over the bridge above our heads, and yes, the tiny click sound of the digital clock on the dashboard? Why not enjoy just being here, moving swiftly down the road, but unable to do much of anything but be?
            I know, I could read (and I did some of that). And we could chat (we did plenty of that). And I could quietly chant some mantra or sing (that, too). But most of the time when I’m traveling I’m just so anxious to get to where I want to be that the journey seems unbearably tedious.
            So, I have to remind myself especially when traveling to be here now. It’s always a challenge, but even more so when you’re not where you want to be. It’s a lot easier to be here now when I’m in a warm, frothy bath, or at a delicious Thai restaurant, or with my very entertaining and amusing sons, than when I’m in line at the supermarket, stuck in a car or waiting in a doctor’s office. In short, it’s much easier to rush to the pose than to stretch mindfully into it, aware of every joint, muscle and bone in the body. But, as my teacher said, “What’s the rush?”

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