Devotion, dogma, and ladies holiday

I don’t particularly love take out Chinese food, but my family does, especially my son. I do love fortune cookies though. Not the taste, I only eat them when I like the fortune…I got this one a few weeks ago.IMG_0783.JPG

I not only ate it, I saved it:) Rest not from duty, but find rest in it. I certainly try, but as I’ve thought about it more, in seeing it displayed out where I have it. What does it mean? Should I really fold my fitted sheets into perfect flat rectangles? When I cave into the sensation, that it’s good enough to get them into a puffy folded wad that might be a rectangle, as I’m aware that there are four beds I’m doing this for, and my linen closet is bulging from the past attempt of wadding folding? How important is this duty? Should I strive to do a better job with it? At what point does conceding defeat develop into right action?

I had no idea of moon days, six day a week practice or ladies holiday my first year of practicing ashtanga. Quite frankly, as I got more and more passionate about my practice, I was doing so, just about everyday. Alas, it was difficult to force myself into the mindset, that not doing asana, was also a practice, a duty to be compassionate to my body. There have been times I’ve been frustrated as I’m on the verge of figuring something out and a break, albeit, even a brief one, has seemed to be a detriment. Yet, as well, I have come to appreciate and need these days off from asana. However, there can also be a dangerous monkey mind rationalization in aiding and abetting a complacent laziness in avoiding best effort and progress. How do we wrestle which choice is the right action? How much fear or avoidance plays into a decision not to practice, versus doing so because it is the right action, or duty to rest.

Ladies holiday was the hardest for me to incorporate. I admit, I found the concept antiquated and chauvinistic when I first learned about it. I scoffed and figured, just ignore it. I admit though, there had been times, practice and menstruation just didn’t work well, in rather mortifying fashions…leaks, sounds, and gushes, oh my…sorry too much info, I know. Yet I persevered, until, I started becoming irregular, skipping or spotting. The perks of being a woman at times, oh joy. I wrote it off at first, I’m not getting any younger, living with my daughters hormone spikes, stress, and any other possible option besides utilizing ladies holiday.

I finally asked my teacher about it, because of my irregular skip/spotty cycle. She told me a number of women who don’t always get a period, tack on an extra day or two of rest next to a moon day. That many post menopausal women as well as women with different medical or hormonal reasons who don’t menstruate regularly, take this approach of an extra rest day by either new or full moon, to pick one and make it part of my routine.

In theory, I liked it. At first, it was annoying, as I didn’t always want to, or even remember but eventually it became a habit, but more importantly, my cycle slowly came back to its normal annoyance, and now incorporated, ladies holiday. Rest from asana practice, is not rest, but duty to be compassionate to your body. I can’t say if there is a medical reason why my body went through these anomalies due to heeding or not heeding ladies holiday, but I’ll take my holiday now, mostly with pleasure, but a side of guilt because I am admittedly crazy in my intensity. On that note, Sharath was asked what should we do when we are restless and missing asana on these days in conference last spring, and his answer was to take a walking meditation outside if the weather allowed it, just don’t do asana. I’m enjoying my rest in duty today, rainy, wet and cold, busing trying to figure out if I should ever care to learn how to fold a fitted sheet better.

The ripple effect

While studying in India, part of the after morning practice routine was a well needed stop at the coconut stand. Most mornings I was just spent and blissed out greedily quenching my thirst, not taking in much around me other than the fact that there were others in the same transfixed state of needing to replenish some lost fluids with this amazing gift of nutritious coconut water gloriously and skillfully machete chopped open right before my eyes.

Certainly as a place of congregation there was always snippets of conversation floating about. Though many spoke of details of practice, struggles, or bragging rights, there was also just some getting to know each other. I made a few friends by the stand. I overheard a conversation where someone was discussing something about his astrological chart, he mentioned that the astrologer had told him, in this life he wasn’t meant to do anything great or spectacular. I couldn’t help myself, but to turn, and say, wow, that wasn’t a very good astrologer, because how could they possibly know the full ripple effect of your existence? Maybe you won’t be the next Gandhi, but who’s to say that you smiling at a random stranger didn’t change them, or something you said didn’t inspire someone else to start a revolution of peace or kindness or just getting back on the right path? I mean it’s like past life regression, not everyone was Joan of Arc or Confucius, but maybe, if you believe in it, maybe you were the person who gave Da Vinci his first paper and charcoal or read Shakespeare his first poem? Who knows how fully our actions effect this world around us, and why wouldn’t just showing compassion be great enough? The gift of love is liberating and inspiring. We became friends.ūüėä

This morning, my son was telling me a story of his experiences doing community service in Sicily two summers ago. He was working with a group of teens helping build and refurbish a community center and orphanage. As they were only there for two glorious weeks and all aspects of this work was done in stages, his stage was part of some of the finishing touches around the main home. The home was already completed but a courtyard still needed to be made and construction debris, which was basically stone, that had to be moved to a safer place or where it could be used. So much of their work involved literally picking stones up from one side of the road and bringing them to the other side. One of the other boys, my son explained, complained that this work was boring and didn’t seem as grand or noble, to just pick things up and put them down again. The counselor in charge shook his head laughing stating it might not seem like much, but that each facet was just as important to making the project a success. I was thrilled my son understood this. That all the work to make this project safe and welcoming was needed, that the cherry on top came from the effort and the process may not always be glamorous but that the little things matter.

Who will come from that home? Who will be raised there? Will they change the world? Will they have a better life? Will my son? Will I? I have no idea, but I will try to appreciate and love this journey of life. With everything, it’s about the process, not the product. The Bhagavad Gita states in 12.12 “Give up the belief that inner peace depends on results of action. That result-renouncing state is pure inner peace.” So lovely to think, yet I know how hard that is to maintain, hence 99% practice!

Did you know the coconut is a drift nut?
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