Gather round now: getting it together with the help of others.

Lying in a puddle of my own sweat atop a thin mat at the conclusion of a challenging 90-minute hot yoga class yesterday, I wondered for a moment just how it was I could be enjoying this. Sure there’s the relativity of the moment – compared to the countless thigh-torching Warrior poses and low push up transitions just prior – this felt like bliss. But yesterday I experienced something else. Beyond physical. I’ve taken hundreds (thousands perhaps) hot vinyasa classes over the past several years and know that final rest-in-your-own-sweat is a bizarre sort of reward we power yogis chase after. But this particular morning, my rest wasn’t self-centered, as it often is. Free of self-gloating (I nailed that handstand!) Or resignation (where was my focus??), I basked instead in the quiet harmony enveloping the room. Surrounded by 25 or so human souls saturated in their own sweat, I felt connected to every one of them. Didn’t know their names, what brought them to this practice, or where they came from. And it didn’t matter.

Because right now, in a time of monumental division in this country, I need to gather. Whether it’s in a puddle of sweat surrounded by others, on a video conference call with fellow yoga teachers from around the world, allowing the woman sitting two tables over at my favorite coffee shop to peer at my book and share that she loved that author too.

Gathering with yogis. Baptiste L2, Oct. 2014.

Gathering with yogis. Baptiste L2, Oct. 2014

Gather round the fire. The table. The yoga room. The coffee shop WITHOUT your laptop and headphones. The fill in the blank, wherever you like, so long as it’s congregating with others. This is what I’m discovering for myself is required when alienating, fear-inducing political shit keeps hitting the fan. I’m not writing a political piece here – just to be clear – rather a plea to gather round and connect with others regardless of where you’re leaning on the he’s awesome/he’s a f***ing disaster spectrum. Gathering round with others has proven especially comforting to me of late. It’s also kept me rooted in the now. The now of, for example, a fantastic sharing amongst peers of how to accommodate both an advanced yogi and absolute beginner in an all levels class, as we did on our group video call last week. In contrast, a walk alone earlier in the day left me with tunnel vision lost in thoughts of what to make of the morning headlines. Who knows how many dogs I failed to notice and pat along the way.

As yoga teachers, we gather. It’s what we do.”

Saturday nights are schedule-free zones when the man is in town. A typical evening could be warming a couple of bar stools and losing ourselves in french fries and micro beers, or allowing the cat to wedge between us on the sofa as we watch another episode of Breaking Bad. But me moseying off to a yoga teacher’s study group for 3+ hours is definitely breaking the don’t-touch-our-date-night rules. But with his encouragement I went. Because I needed to gather amongst a group of trusted teachers who too are teaching in really weird times. Our facilitator (Coeli Marsh) drove home the privilege, and all the responsibility that goes with it, of what we do by reminding us that as yoga teachers, we gather people. As I haven’t been teaching regularly since December, I left with a stronger resolve to get back to it.

Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Many friends marched last week and shared their experiences gathering round amongst tens of thousands to support women. I’m not a marcher (and have a phobia of mass gatherings and parades of any kind), but appreciated the solidarity shown. Other friends shared experiences celebrating the Inauguration. Updos, gorgeous gowns and exclamation points embedded in their Facebook posts made me smile too. I love all my friends. Even those I don’t agree with. Whether in protest or celebration, gathering with others is powerful, and essential in making our world better.

Talent wins games, but teamwork and intelligence wins championships.” – Michael Jordan

Home gym, 2017.

Home gym, 2017.

A resolute intention to build more physical strength in 2017 has resulted in an amped home gym (and an excited husband who can now justify some hefty – pun intended – purchases from Rogue Fitness) and a twice-weekly date with a crew of rabid Crossfit 6:30 AMers. So unlike my yoga class comfort zone, most days I have no idea what the hell I’m doing ahead of time in Crossfit. Every drill requires additional instruction (just drop the barbell at the end of the set Shannon, you don’t have to make it look graceful), and a lot of encouragement from the new circle of friends I’m gathering round with. High fives, ‘you got this’, ‘we’ll see you Thursday, yes?’ are constant affirmations that I’m not alone, and that I can put all the political discord on the shelf and simply bathe in the support and hard physical/mental effort of the group.

Where do you gather and how has it helped? I’d love to know.

 

 

 

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One thought on “Gather round now: getting it together with the help of others.

  1. Love this one Shannon – I’m with you in just having some direct communication with those we care about and share our day with. I think social medial is giving way to people saying things they would never say to ones face and seriously driving huge divides among friends and families. I have pretty much deleted everyone on facebook who rants and raves constantly, so it’s nice to just see pictures of family/friends and what people are doing each day. I’ve also decided to not renew my subscription to the Seattle Times. It is now a paper that simply fuels anger and hate – some articles are true but many are so stilted that I find myself getting angry just reading them. I don’t think I have ever had these emotional feelings about something that I simply don’t have the correct info on. So with removing much of this I don’t have the stress of thinking about it and can just enjoy my friends, my tennis, my jigsaw puzzles and looking forward to a few fun trips. Sat. night I played a USTA tennis match in Bellevue (court 1) against a woman about 45, built like a tank with tattoo’s all over her. She decided to make me a target and returned every ball as hard as she could hit towards my head. I started to freak out and kept moving back, she loved it as she knew she was getting in my head. I told her a couple of times I thought she could really hurt me if she kept that up, and she just said Nah, you’ll be fine. So I would jump out of the way and then try and play smarter than her, short shots, make her run, everything I could think of. We lost but only by, seriously a couple of points. But the point being why would someone do this? My partner said WOW this woman is seriously targeting you. If doing this to someone 73 gives a woman a big high I think we are getting really sick out there. So enough of that, I was really proud how I played, our scores were 6/4 and 7/6 in a 7/5 tie break. Brains are better than all the power in the world. I’m off to Ireland Friday – getting excited. Anxious to hear how your world is going. I’m going to try and post pictures along the way so stay tuned. Love you, Mom. >

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