At the beginning of each yoga class I lead, we stand still for a few minutes, drop our attention inward, and just take a little inventory, from head to toe, inside and out. What’s going on? There’s no need to label it “good” or “bad” or get into thoughts about how or why certain feelings are there. We just take note of where and what sensations are present, and move on.
After an hour or so of regular breath and movement, as we lay down and relax our bodies, minds, and emotions, we do the same thing again. This time, there’s an added component of noticing what has changed since we took note at the beginning of class. After we take the second inventory, we trust ourselves to the floor, to relaxation, and let it go again.
It’s a pretty good thing to do, this inventory. I’m not one to think in economic simile, but it doesn’t take much thinking to understand that we are in a state of constant exchange, both inside ourselves and with the world around us. If we stay up late to watch a movie, we pay for it the next morning when we don’t want to wake up at the usual hour. If we use our bodies well and eat good food, we are rewarded with relatively good health. Those are simple equations. Many of the exchanges we make are more complex than that and harder to track down. I believe that for everything we “pay”, physically, mentally, spiritually, monetarily, we receive something in return, and likewise there is nothing much we receive that doesn’t get paid for in some way as well. It is important to take stock from time to time and assess the resources we have available to move forward.
That’s what we’ve been doing around here, with the turn of the year. We began some deep housecleaning, re-organizing our STUFF, the yarn stash, the seed inventory, the sock drawers of LIFE. We had a couple nice family meetings, discussing the priorities for the season and the year ahead.
And then, we got sick.
I won’t go into gross details, but we were plunged into a sort of intermediate hibernation state, with the cold snap of the decade upon us and all four of us laid out like bumps on a log. It’s a good thing that we were ambitious in our choice of a wood stove. Warmth was no problem. Food took slightly more exertion, but Lulah kicked in and made some great noodles with medicinal doses of garlic to fill in where miso soup left off. ‘Atta girl!
Then, the ice begins to thaw, the fever pains subside, and we stir our consciousness again. We will do inventory once more, maybe a little deeper this time. What has changed? What was paid? What was gained? What survived the freeze, and what will be taken up by Winter? There are answers to all of those questions, and we will find them, gently, bit by bit.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an advocate for sickness. It’s miserable. My head still feels weird and none of us have shaken the nasty cough all the way. Awful stuff. But, the truth is that it happens, and it is within our best interest to look for the bright spot in what is otherwise an unpleasant experience.
As I awaken from this long night of illness, the sensation of stretching my muscles in exquisite. The warmth of exhalation through my nose is comforting. I look over and see that Levon is assembling a 24-piece puzzle, by himself. He has also created and hung on the wall a painting that looks like what he says it is.
There are birds high in the trees, singing in the warmer day. The chickens run from the coop in the morning, instead of huddling on their perches. There are three eggs instead of 2, or 1, or none. My feet are warm.
I am grateful for so many small things.
There is still plenty of dust and laundry to attend to, plus some new watercolor paint spills on the floor and more mud by the door, but there will be time for that when we come to greater equilibrium. For now, all there is to do is move slowly and use our resources carefully, absorbing the amazing healing power of rest.