For the past two weeks we have been focusing on standing balance poses in my yoga class. Tree, Half Lotus, Warrior Two and many others; and we have been fluidly moving from one to another to another. These moving poses require tons of concentration on the one hand, and letting go on the other. They aren’t easy.
Let’s just say I’ve fallen over many times in the last couple of weeks…
One of the strategies for keeping balance is finding a small point on which to gaze. A knothole in the wood floor, or a nail on the wall, or a tree outside the window. In that amazingly true, but slightly confounding, Buddhist way the more gentle but at-the-same-time more intense you can focus, the easier it is to stay upright. And when you get that specific mix of both just right, it feels like…well, like both the sky and the earth are supporting you, while at the same time you are an integral part of them. It’s an amazing feeling.
And I had an amazing epiphany while I was feeling that feeling.
There I was, focused on the dark brown knothole on the wood floor three feet in front of me, breathing slowly in and out, my arms outstretched above my head and one leg bent and resting against the other, the sky and the earth holding me—and being me—from all sides, and I realized that I was experiencing the same kind of awareness and groundedness that I have when I am reading a wonderful story and I come to a detail; when the author focuses closely on a specific object or place or emotion; when the detail is described with meticulous attention to sensory and emotional and logistical truths. Those kinds of details keep the reader aware of the unique story that she is reading, while at the same time ground her in the universal story that we are all a part of. In that glorious moment, the story guides the reader and is the reader—all at the same time.
Pretty darn cool, in my opinion.
Emily Danforth does this exceptionally well in her debut novel The Miseducation of Cameron Post which is a brilliant examination of one Midwestern girl’s “coming of GAY-ge” (as Emily puts it.) The story is both heartbreakingly intimate and, well, heartbreakingly universal.
I think we are moving on to a different focus in yoga, but I am committing to remembering this epiphany—both in my yoga practice and in my writing practice as well.