The second set of quotable quotes from Poser, to-date my favorite Yoga Memoir by Claire Dederer resonate with the transition I’m going through since I moved to Sri Lanka and the second wave of transitioning to becoming a mother.
“I have discovered something: there was a pleasure in becoming something new. You could will yourself into a fresh shape.”
Coming to Sri Lanka I have definitely willed myself into a totally new shape: that of a housewife. Although I have dreamed of becoming an expat’s wife and have actually looked forward to a housewifely existence, I didn’t know that it would be that difficult. Who was I kidding? I was fresh from a corporate existence for most of my adult life who was brought to this new “career” by circumstance. However, in as much as at that time it was painful, looking back, I actually reshaped my whole being. I must say as paradoxical as it may seem, I have actually expanded my sense of self. And now, becoming a mother, I am more excited to be “willed” to a fresh shape – literally. Although at 14 weeks I may not look pregnant at all, I am so looking forward to the baby bump!
“…poses were not about perfection but process. The yoga… is in the trying.”
Probably one of the biggest lessons that I had to learn and re-learn and re-learn. Coming here, I wanted to take my life where I left off: from one job to another in another country. However it was not meant to be. So during that time I was anxiety-ridden: “I want to have a job!” Or “Yikes, 2 years without working, what am I going to do with myself?” The wait was only 3 months (which was actually the “timeline” I’ve set for myself), I had to be in that space for 3 months. There was no other way around it. As much of the painful things in life.
“Submission, trust, transmission from teacher to student, imperfection, the release of the ego – these were the things that would save me from myself, even if they were as unfamiliar as Krishna with his blue face. You can’t go deeper and know what you’re doing the whole time.”
Again, one of the lessons I need to learn and re-learn constantly. Submission, trust, transmission from the universe as my teacher. Uncertainty is my enemy but somehow as I grew older, I am slowly learning the lesson that it has to be my friend. This line is just perfect: “You can’t go deeper and know what you’re doing the whole time.” Growth does not thrive on certainty. And if you recall, in your life, it was always during these moments when you had to just trust, to submit, to take a leap (to quote Fr. Ferriols: “Lundagin mo beybeh.”) were the times when you experienced absolute growth. And if I may quote another: “There is a certain amount of purposelessness that is necessary to lead a full life (Dr. Wyatt, Bones).”
“For concentration is better than mere practice, and meditation is better than concentration, but higher than meditation is surrender in love of the fruit of one’s actions, for on surrender follows peace.”
(from the Bhagavad Gita)
And at the end of the day, once you’ve surrendered, even if you haven’t even gotten what you wished for, there is a certain sense of creation already, of receiving, of peace.
“Here I was, a different person, a person who could do a headstand. It seemed a significant change to me. Not as big a change as getting married or having a baby, but maybe as big as seeing my byline in print for the first time. In a moment, in the kick of a heavy leg. Different.”
Through that time when I was grappling with my new and expanded identity, like Claire, I could actually do a headstand. As shared in Yoga La VidaLanka Part 1, I came from such an experience that hurt my self-esteem and left me traumatized from believing myself. But when I was able to do that headstand, I knew they were not entirely right and I still had that power in me. But you can’t do a headstand fighting, yes you may have to kick initially but there is a sense of serenity that is required to hold that pose. It was a different kind of power I am feeling. I couldn’t even believe my yoga teacher told me I looked serene, relax. Is this me? I guess, this is another side of me!
“You might be feeling discomfort now. If it is time to stop, it is time to stop. But if you can, stay with it. What is discomfort? What does it feel like? Is it really pain, or are you just in an unfamiliar situation? That’s an ok place to be.”
Now, I’m back to my “old corporate self” but I am not the same. Motherhood is affecting me greatly by shifting the focus from me, myself and I, to what is right for me, my husband, our baby – our own little family. And because I have changed (or in the process of changing) how I am strong and what success for me now is different. But somehow my definitions are taking a while to be up to date. It has started during my housewife days, but it has such a lasting effect on me. Plus I know my life will change (again) drastically after baby is born (hubby and I have made certain decisions that will, again, expand my sense of self) – and I’m excited to get there. But now is not the time – yet. I want for this phase to stop and move on to the next. The next phase is more exciting and what I have been waiting for for sometime. Yet I know I have to stay here, as uncomfortable as it may seem. At the end of the day, it is still an “ok” place to be.
“Maybe everyone needs to retreat every once in a while, or you don’t know who you are or what you’ve become.”
What more can I say about that?