Drain the Thought Puddles
“Take a deep and heavenly breath,” she said.
Did she say heavenly breath? Or heavy? My hearing isn’t what it used to be...
“Heavenly - free and accepting,” she followed- as if she’d read my mind’s question.
I almost didn’t make it to class. I arrived just a couple of minutes late and found the door locked, which is unusual. I’d signed in online and usually the teacher leaves the door open for us if she knows we are coming. I walked back to my car so disappointed. As I threw my mat onto the backseat, I felt myself wanting to cry. Literally, I felt the lump in the throat and heat building around my eyelids.
What is up with that? It’s just a yoga class, for goodness sake. Get a grip, I said to myself. Go for a walk instead. But I didn’t want to go for a walk. I’d missed yoga all last week due to sickness and was finally well enough return. I’d been anticipating this morning for a couple of days. Still, aren’t tears a bit overkill?
I suspected my body was trying to tell me something that my mind wasn’t interested in hearing yet. As my bossy mind chastised my body about the rising tears, I got a text from my teacher asking if I was on the way.
“Here”, I typed. “Door locked.”
Within minutes, I was welcomed into class and on my mat in Downward Dog, trying to discern if she’d said “heavenly breath” or heavy breath.
My attention was captured with this idea of taking a heavenly breath ( what is it and can I please?) and I thought about it for a few minutes until the postures did their job and my mind was hushed in order for my body to do its work.
At the end of the hour, I lay in the final resting pose, listening again to the teacher. Leading us toward relaxation, she spoke of watching rain fall and run down toward a lake. I have a beloved lake in my mind’s eye and I watch rain fall there and run down the hill cutting grooves in the sand and joining the pool below.
Don't allow your thoughts to puddle, she said. And with that I knew why my body has almost cried when I thought I was locked out and missed this class..
I’d allowed my thoughts to puddle. Since the previous day, when a conversation left me feeling anxious on a surface level, but inadequate at a deeper level, I’d stopped right there in that puddle - and it was a muddy one. I was holding on to the feeling of inadequacy.
I’d felt the emotion, but instead of acknowledging it and asking if there were any real basis for it, I’d moved on from the unpleasantness without really examining, getting busy with the tasks of the day, not conscious that it remained… until that image of a puddle in the rain, a mud puddle - and then the tears surfaced again.
I’d buried anxious and inadequate inside me and gone on with wrapping birthday gifts and cooking dinner and just like that rivers of living water stopped flowing and turned to muddy puddles in my soul.
There’s a scene where Jesus’s disciples have been unable to help a boy. His father brings him to Jesus. It’s one of my favorites because the father says, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” That is one of my lifetime breath prayers. The disciples later ask Jesus why they were unable to heal him and he says to them, “These only come out by prayer.”
Prayer comes in all kinds of forms. The body and soul have their ways of praying that sometimes bypass the mind. Sometimes mine look like a yoga pose.
The wisdom of the body knows something the mind does not and has its own way of speaking to us if we listen. I’m only beginning to learn how to listen this way.
Emily P. Freeman says tears are tiny messengers from the soul. Yesterday, my soul had believed a lie that it was inadequate, that it didn’t measure up, but the soul speaks softly and can’t be heard over the mind’s loud mouth. The body knows how to shut the mind up so the soul has a turn to speak, so the truth can come out, the air can be cleared.
That’s what heavenly breath does. It clears the air between the soul, mind and body. And when the weather clears up, the puddles dry up.