follow your line

I was 45 minutes into my Vinyasa class and really irritated.

You know how sand can be your undoing….how the grit in your sandals is all-consuming until you take them off and rinse them under water? My thoughts were like that, distracting & chafing.

Breath + movement + sun salutations were not doing the trick.

I’d had a rough couple of days battling dragons and was weary from the fight; I couldn’t make sense of the struggle and was lacking the resilience and confidence that accompany me most days. I showed up to class looking for respite, for a little peace and if I was lucky, some clarity.

It’s hard to make that happen. I was losing the mental battle, and that just infuriated me more. Intrusive thoughts are such a pain in the ass; I hate to perseverate.

Maybe it was being upside down, maybe all that lunging and downward-dogging had worn me out, but it was by kicking my legs skyward that the thoughts went still. Nikki, my yoga teacher, walked by and helped align my handstand. With both hands centering my hips, she whispered, just under her breath,

“There’s your line, Lor.”

How could four words hold so much power? The strength in my upper body felt Incredible-Hulk-like; I could have held that stand til Tuesday. Core fully engaged, balance attained, I had this spiritual experience that shifted everything. The gritty sand – poof! – vanished.

Legs returned to the earth, and I folded forward into child’s pose. Finally, the respite. Finally, the clarity. “There’s your line, Lor,” was spoken in one context, but served as the missing riddle to silence the thoughts that tormented me just moments before.

Follow your line. Follow your integrity.

The second half of class was empowering, healing. Vinyasa, after all, is about finding flow, and I’d fallen into the rhythm I seek when I show up on that mat. Maybe you find yours running or writing (in words or in code), or playing an instrument, but I often find mine when Nikki’s my guide.

That inversion shifted something in my brain, nudged the frustration and anger off center stage and replaced them with confidence and clarity. In rapid succession I made two decisions that would direct the course of my week and the course for the next couple months:

1) I would go home and find the red thread given to me by a Buddhist monk in Thailand, nearly eight years ago.

Simone and I had been in Krabi at Wat Tham Sua, Tiger Cave Temple. We’d scaled the 1,200 steps to the sweeping vista of countryside and the Andaman Sea. Before leaving, we paid our alms to the monks that live there, and a quiet man in a saffron robe tied a simple, braided string on my wrist. I returned from the yoga studio and found it, in a tray on my dresser, nostalgic and now symbolic, a daily reminder to follow my own line.

Later that night, we met friends for dinner. Alex and Deanna just returned from Cambodia, and I laughed to see both their wrists encircled with red thread. (If you’ve traveled to wats or temples in Asia, you’ve likely had a similar experience.) The serendipity did not go unnoticed.

This week I glanced at the string, standing in a circle at Portland Playhouse while reciting MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech with my neighbors. On Tuesday, I held it as I spoke Truth to Power. Yesterday, I referenced the red thread as I addressed a curious audience committed to cultivating story and plotting their course in 2015.

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Simple, sacred, worn to keep me focused.

What does it mean for you to find your line?

Will you follow it?

p.s. the second decision I made that day will show up on this blog in another week…

 

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