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Lesson learned


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There's a vision of myself that I treasure: a memory from one of the first hot Vinyasa classes that I took with that bursting bubble Grace Boland. We'd been hard at it for about 45 minutes and as she'd promised, things had gotten sweaty, things had gotten loud. She put on Paul Simon singing "Cecelia" - not necessarily a yoga song, but one that really digs deep and lifts you up, espcially at assertive volume. From down dog to a three-legged dog, we lifted our bent knees to the ceiling, stacking one hip over the other, and Grace invited us to "flip our dogs" bringing that lifted foot back down to the earth behind us, spinning our torsos up and releasing instead that same hand. It's this vision of myself that I cherish. In this twisting backbend, heart open, throat open, grinning chin lifted to the ceiling and my free hand reaching for the horizon, I was in joyous expansion, yet anchored firmly on three points with a solid foundation underneath me. The vision was solidified by Kathy Koenig, who had walked by the studio window at that same moment and said to me after class "Wow Jenni, you looked like you were having the time of your life!" I absolutely had. This vision of myself and its emotional and spiritual components encapsulates what I love about my asana practice, and is an apt icon for my life these past few months.

As our plans for this trip came together (lightening our load of possessions, selling the house, disengaging from the inessential roots we'd put down), that feeling of confidence and exaltation grew and grew. By the time Jim and I delivered the news to our employers and our game could be quite open, those positive feelings began to build exponentially. The well-wishes from friends, family and most powerfully from fellow yogis left me incredibly inspired by the time we took off. The last few classes I taught were some of the best I've done, and my own practices were deeply satisfying. Time spent with our families was warm, supportive, productive (as the final knots got tied off) and relaxing. Arriving in Fiji my heart was swelling still. The place is so beautiful, and yet very real. (We didn't stay in a resort.) People here are gently courteous and exuberantly friendly and helpful. We've been traveling up and down the coast in open-sided buses, shaded from the intense sun, squashed up against Fijians in beautifully colored island prints, listening to reggae versions of rock songs and fun international pop music with lyrics like "I just want to feel this moment." We've snorkled on a coral reef, treaded water in possibly the most exquisite marine-island situation on the planet, lived pretty cleanly and slept well. My meditation has been consistently easeful, and though my asana practice some days means adjusting my posture, the stress of my retail job has mostly sifted out of my back and hips. We've comfortably divided our time between activity and relaxation with our books and journals beside the pool. In effect, we've been disarmed. In that metaphorical flipped dog pose, I became quite giddy, floating so high I lost that firm contact with the mat underneath me.

In a situation with too many red flags fluttering in our face to be believed, we were fraudulently fleeced of about $30. In that twisting backbend, I was far more excited about reaching out and making a connection with a nice family from the other side of the world. My willingness to extend myself pulled me beyond the bounds of safety. I lost connection with awareness, lost my skills of "travelling 101," and lost one large bill. After figuring out what had just happened, I asked myself what my practice should be. How did I react? At first with sadness, and a few minutes of feeling humiliated in front of my husband, dismayed that I had been that gullible. Really! But as Jim said when he also settled himself, it was a pretty harmless and inexpensive shot across our bow. It didn't harden our hearts, but it did bring me back to earth. The practice in that moment was to regain stability and reset, to be able to open up and reach out again, grinning chin and all.

There are many styles of yoga that I enjoy, each offering something valuable and different, but Vinyasa is my favorite. It offers intense pleasure in the body, the grossest part of our selves, but an entryway nonetheless into other theatres of our experience. The joy of sure and rhythmic movement, (the regaining of steadiness when that surety is bobbled!), the application of just the right amount of exertion to allow the salience of subtelty, sweet trembling fatigue after an offering of energy, strength and grace, and that precious, precious skill of prioritizing stabilty over extension- all these things reward me richly. At some point in my early 30s, my grandmother was expressing her disapproval of my life. I was unmarried, childless and even worse, lived far from my parents and extended family. "I like my life, Grandma," I said. "I'm happy." "Hmmph! " she replied, "Life is not about being happy." I adore her, and value every memory of her I can hang onto, but I think she got this one wrong. When we are truly happy, anything on the spectrum from quiet contentment to supernova explosions of glee, we are aligned with the Divine. That IS what life is about. Wayne Dyer encourages us to "vibrate at a high frequency," a phrase I embrace and repeat with gusto. When our energy is directed outward in creative and generous love and beauty, when we offer and accept that energy with practiced strength and skill, even when we stumble, our motions are grace-full. That flipped dog pose is still one of my favorites. It makes my heart and soul unleash nearly ecstatically! From now on though, I'll be practicing with a much deeper appreciation of being grounded first, aware of my situation, seeing truly. I'll move through the world open to kindness and friendship, reaching out with a smile, but less vulnerable to being pulled off my feet.




Posted by Stravaigin 22:17 Archived in Fiji

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You are a marvelous writer. A treat to sit here in grey,drizzly Chicago and read this soaring missive. Getting fleeced while traveling is somehow more jarring than on one's own turf, but lessons learned just the same.
Keep em coming.

by Debbie Poulin

Hi Jenni, I just wanted to let you know I enjoyed your blog and the fabulous pictures. The picture of you standing in the water is great, and I am a little jealous here in snowy Ohio. I hope you are well and having a wonderful time. I'll enjoy following your progress! Love, Lori

by Lori Shockey

What a beautiful writer you are!! I love your entries thus far and look forward to hearing more - you're making me very excited for our upcoming trip next month. Happy travels!!!

by Amy

Oh...Jenni...what a great entry and beautiful pictures. You certainly look like you are having the time of your life!
Namaste dear friend :)

by Amy Gelber

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