Ten years ago I unrolled a yoga mat for the first time.
Awkward in my body, I struggled with the language that was being spoken, not Sanskrit, rather just the language that encouraged me to notice things about my body that were foreign. At that time I had no idea of the subtle ways in which my body could adjust or how my mind could attempt to be so focused. And breathing? Having never considered to pay attention to how I am breathing, that was all so new.
And I hated it.
I hated the stillness, the quiet, the physical struggle of my overweight body, the thoughts racing through my head of what others thought, the competition and comparison and oh, how I hated laying in savasana with only myself.
Until I got it.
The moment that I realized that something was happening within me was not on the mat. It was a regular day in the early part of spring where I was walking into my everyday job. I was going though the unconscious motions of the routine to get to work with a mind full of the usual clutter.
Until I saw the tree. The 20 year old tree that I had passed hundreds of times.
But on this day, I SAW the tree. As if it reached out with its long branches that were about to bud into its glory of leaves, I felt it speak to me. I stopped and I stared. I felt the aliveness of the tree. I noticed the signs of growth and also the signs of its aging bark as if for the first time. I imagined it was breathing with me. Here, I experienced oneness.
I attribute this moment to be one where I began the process of waking up. Where I became aware. I know for sure that this new found love affair with this tree became available to me because of the teachings on the mat.
Without a doubt in my mind, yoga cracked me open to become aware. That special tree was my first applied experience off the mat. And a glorious experience it was.