if you can stand to.
Union with the Friend means not being who you’ve been,
Being instead silence: A Place: A view
Where language is inside seeing.
I don’t sit still very well. Never have. I’m always scheming about what else I could or should be doing. Even in meditation or asana practice, I’m often battling a case of the “could/shoulds” and cursing myself for not having a cleaner, less cluttered house or thinking about what I could be eating or should be doing for some radical cause or things I could be creating out of my insane amounts of craft supplies. Just sitting isn’t going to change the world or get things done. Or is it?
The funny thing is, the older I get, the more I find that I need periods of sitting in order to get things accomplished- even when I feel as though I’m going to crawl out of my skin. I need time to acclimate to all of the changes that are happening in my life and to force my mind to settle just a little. And even in the chatter that happens when I sit still, a miracle occurs and the could/shoulds come into a clearer perspective and become more of a case of the “maybe laters” or “I can’t remember why that was so important in the first place”.
Since yoga camp (aka: yoga teacher training), two amazing changes have happened in my life that have helped me to find a greater clarity about my need to sit still; Friday morning yoga book club (which should really more aptly be called “yogis sitting around talking about life and bringing up yoga philosophy over baked goods, green juice, and intermittent cursing”, but that’s just not as easy to fit in my calendar) and periodic marathon afternoon tea dates (lasting upwards of 5-6 hours at a stretch) with some new friends that my partner met in her job as a cheese steward at the local grocery store.
If anyone would have told me a year ago that I would be dedicating large chunks of my time sitting over green juice or hot tea with friends, I would have rolled my eyes and explained that I have very little time for such things. Now, I can only say that I can’t imagine not making the time to commit to cultivating friendships, dreaming, talking about philosophy, and hearing stories about someone’s life while sipping tea out of dainty little tea cups in an antique filled dining room. These times have helped to remind me that sitting still can often settle my spirit in ways running around and multitasking never do. And, more importantly, I actually get to spend time just being with other human beings- being seen, heard, validated, inspired, and honored.
I spend so much of my time trying to fit an insane amount of things into my life in order to connect more, learn more, create more, or to get more done in less amount of time. I don’t know if there’s a theory in quantum physics to explain it, but I can tell you that in my own experience, it doesn’t work. No amount of tweeting or facebooking or emailing or even talking on the phone can compare to the deep connection that happens when I share time with people face to face (though video chat comes in as a close second). And the less I do at any given moment (meaning the more I slow down and notice what I’m doing), the more time I feel I have. Running at a rapid pace does not make the clock slow down. It just makes me tired.
My new(ish) friend June has been one of my greatest teachers for this very reason. We spend entire afternoons into the evening sitting still in uncomfortable antique chairs while she spins the metaphorical yarn of her life. Rarely do I speak more than a sentence or two, and I have heard many of her stories multiple times. Yet every time she repeats a story, the spark in her eyes shines as if she is offering it up for the first time with worldly wisdom that I will take into my own life (and she is). June believes in the importance of tea, complete with a charming tea set, and connections in a way I’ve never experienced before, and it always feels as though I’ve entered another time where women connect over the dining room table to share oral traditions. It’s lovely. And despite my occasional tendency to get antsy or to fall into my could/should ways, I am honored to call her friend.
I think this must be the yoga of friendship; committing time to cultivate loving relationships over hot tea (or green juice). Looking in the eyes of another person and validating their existence as integral to your very own. Recognizing the divine experience of being human together and practicing patience, compassion, humor, and vulnerability through real connections.