Saturday, September 1, 2012

Midday Traffic: A Lesson in Equanimity

Driving down Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn on a repair errand, heading towards the neighborhoods that reach the sea. Double parked trucks and cars, impatient zoomers tucking in between the obstacles and cutting back into the reluctantly single lane of barely moving traffic. The bus here and there, lumbering in and out of the current; slow heavy construction vehicles grinding along methodically avoiding left turn lanes and thereby blocking everything else. A very hot day it was too, the sidewalks crowded with people from nearly every nation on earth.  What a heavenly enterprise! Imagining that I could take the short time between my teaching commitments and get this thing done!

When I felt a sense of time rise up, it turned into an endless hot open field. As a low slung car with Pennsylvania plates cut back in front of me for the third time, I burst out laughing. This driver is staying busy, I thought, moving in and out as if they are getting ahead, yet every time they end up right in front of me in my sluggish journey, steadily heading towards that specific authorized local repair shop on Quentin.  Any tension about my schedule shuts down my energy and my sense of good humor, so I let it go, figuring that I made this decision well informed and with every chance of success. Anxiety about the light changing to red before I get to it closes off my good will, which I feel towards the small car in front of me full of chatting young women. Why waste my time on that? I have watched them try once to get around the dump truck and ended up back in front of me. Eventually we both made it around that truck. They are occupying themselves with each other's company, so I choose to enjoy that too. Why worry about traffic lights as we wait for the green light in tandem?

When I take a revolved balancing posture in my practice, I know that my energy lines must be open in the same way as when I drive down Flatbush Avenue in mid afternoon. Ready for anything, steady of purpose, good humored about the flailing or throbbing or whirling outliers of body, mind and context. Keeping my energy openly flowing in all directions, without judging the wobbly foot or the tangled gaze, I can find spaces in my spine as I twist, and in my mind as I watch where the struggles arise.

Noticing that impulse to want the light to remain in my favor is the same as noticing that I want my left hip to allow the same twist as my right. It might, but the desire for that only clogs up my energy and shifts my focus from being fully present. I am much more likely to lose the integrity of my spine or my footing as I reach for conditions, or for judgment or for outcome. This turning of my inner focus towards equanimity happens all along Flatbush Avenue, and throughout my yoga asana sequence. The depth of the practice is what allows me to have good will towards what is happening, and to choose where to turn my focus, keeping my attention on opening my energy, noticing where it gets caught up. So from Flatbush I find myself turning onto Quentin, and in my practice, I hold steady with energy flowing towards foundational support and endless possibility.

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