It’s Mother’s Day. Hunter’s mom picked him up, and Dad’s got the morning to himself. The world is just filled with choices, isn’t it? Do I stay home and putter in the garden? Do I go out and attend a traditional church for Filet of Soul? Do I do something about my disquieted mind and achy body?
People routinely ask me where I go to church when I’m not doing Filet of Soul. My pat answer is, “I work Sundays,” but that’s a bit of a fib. Truth be told, I tend toward meditation-based spirituality, but I’m like a lot of Christians I know in that I’m more likely to “practice,” when I’m in trouble and need a little soul asylum. (All major religions have a certain meditation aspect. Prayers said by rote and repeated are the same as chants.)
At any rate, I came to what little “soulfulness” I have through yoga—particularly at Denise Barclay’s class over at Yoga Loka. This isn’t to say Barclay is a yogi, it’s to say that I learned my beginning steps toward meditation from her, as I learned my beginning yoga asanas from her. As such, she’s kind of my favorite instructor, although I have a soft spot in my heart for a hippie-looking guy I took some classes from in Montevideo, Uruguay. I guess the language of yoga transcends the thought barrier. Does that make it transcend mental? And that’s about as close as I’m going to come to a yoga joke.
I made it over to Yoga Loka for the 10:30 a.m. Sunday service.
The foyer contains yoga books, bags and CDs, signs emphasizing silence and a plant growing on an interesting copper trellis. As usual, there were a few people sitting on the wire chairs in the entryway, taking off their shoes, talking in whispers. This service has a price tag attached, $16, for those not willing to buy a multiple-visit discount.
We gathered in the studio. I wasn’t carrying a notebook, mainly because it’s difficult to write as a downward facing dog, so some of these details are based on recollection. I think there were about 12 people in attendance, and I only remember one other guy. This was the most dressed down service I’ve attended, with people wearing shorts and sweats. I can also say the group was more physically fit than I typically see in other varieties of spiritual experience.
Barclay began the class as she always does, with a kind of rumination about the mind and the nature of spirit. The idea of the “sermon” was to quiet the brain, to constantly return to the breathing and the conversation with muscles and sinew and stretch. Constantly trying to find our edge, to push it without making unrealistic demands upon our bodies. Listening and acquiescing without desiring.
“How would you feel if we never moved from these spots?” she asked rhetorically.
On this particular morning, she repeated the three keys to freedom from suffering: 1) pay attention to everything, 2) believe in nothing, and 3) take nothing personally.
Yoga is all about the exercise and breathing, leading up to the final meditation, and we spent the last eight minutes lost in meditation land. I left with a quieter mind, fewer aches and a plan for Mother’s Day.