nowhere to go. nothing to do. no one to be.
It’s hard to believe that it was seven years ago now when I crossed a line. It was the day I removed my shoes and socks and stepped my bare feet over the border of my comfort zone and joined a community yoga class. Once there, I was continually stretching and stretched in more ways than one.
Before that fateful day, the only knowledge I’d had about yoga had come from the books and videos I’d borrowed from the public library. Confused hours were spent on the carpeted floor in front of my television wishing I could get a 360 degree view of the leotard-clad instructor so I could see exactly how her left ankle appeared to be attached to her right ear.
Being in an actual class with a three-dimensional instructor was a much more effective way for me to learn especially since all the teachers at the studio were keen on the ‘come and watch’ version of demonstrating the pose first and explaining in detail the geeky why’s, what’s and how’s of each pose. And not once was I asked to turn myself into a human pretzel or attach my ankles to my ears.
At the end of my very first class, all newbies were instructed to lie down on our backs into what is known in Sanskrit as Savasana or Corpse Pose. After an hour of lengthening and stretching my overly-constricted body that had been tightly wound for several decades, I laid my shaking limbs down thinking that pretending to be a corpse for a few minutes would be just what I needed to recover enough for the long walk home after class.
Once the darkened room was quiet, and the softly-spoken instructions for the restorative pose tailed off, the teacher’s next words floated out over all the resting corpses like a blessing or words of commissioning that would accompany them to the new world of resting deeply.
The blessing was:
Rest now. There is nowhere to go. Nothing to do. No one to be. Just be and breathe.
And then silence.
And deep, deep relief.
I was totally off the hook. For the next ten minutes, I was given space and choice to do nothing. To let go of the need to produce, to power through, to prove. It lasted for a second. But for that second, I was free. All I had to do was be and breathe. I could do that.
That incredible feeling of liberation that came from this first experience was short-lived because, as a recovering perfectionist, of course I had to question whether or not I was ‘doing nothing’ correctly. Am I resting deeply enough? How could I be doing this better? Could the teacher tell that I was over-thinking it? Was anyone else struggling to stay in the moment? Obsessive much?
It has only been with time (years of it), self-compassion, regular practice and holding loosely onto outcomes that I have re-discovered subsequent moments of freedom from over-doing, over-thinking, over-producing. Beautiful, soft, liberating moments of non-doing.
Now, at the end of each of my personal yoga practices or as I am preparing to go to drift off to sleep at night or in the midst of a stressful situation, I assume the position of the corpse and bless myself.