"Look to the back wall. Where your eyes go, your head will follow."
I'm in cobra, holding myself up with the strength of my middle back ("Do not put any weight on your arms, this isn't a pushup!"). My eyes slide up the mirror in front of me and make it to the stained tiles of the ceiling before I have to return my attention to breathing so I don't pass out. The back wall, behind me, is visible only in my mind's eye. I doubt my actual eyes will ever see that wall from cobra.
There are other poses where we're given this direction in some form. "Look over your shoulder to the mirror." - requiring a three-quarter twist from a sitting position. "Keep bending back until your eyes are on the floor." - with knees locked and hips pushed forward. "Don't look at the floor. Keep your eyes on your forehead." - while adjusting feet and knees to a precise distance apart.
"Where your eyes go, your head (and body) will follow."
And so I move my eyes toward whatever part of the room the teacher directs, hoping my head and other body parts know they're supposed to follow. The interesting thing is they do, after a fashion.
Those times when I looked at the floor to catch my breath, or to become invisible, or to make my feet come together - nearly every one of those times, I lost my balance. I lost my focus every single one. I started watching other people in the class, comparing and coming up wanting. Wondering if a tattoo would help.
If I can concentrate on moving my eyes, or aiming them where they belong, I get much closer to a full expression of whatever pose I'm attempting at the time.
It's mid-winter. Damp cold, stark outlines, muted colors dominate. The weariness of bearing the weight of so much darkness lays over me like the musty wool blankets of my childhood.
Yet if I look, signs of spring are everywhere. Green crocus fingers poking up from their hibernation. A robin's insistent mate-seeking series of chirps. A little more light, a little later each day.
I'm halfway through my first year as a writer. Nowhere near where I want to be, or where I thought I might be at this time. My book, having served its purpose, now retired. The next one a shadow of an idea, but no more. Several potential directions became dead-ends early on.
What I do have instead is the joy of teaching writing to women who travel the same path, my first experience with a published story, and insights about my life and writing that would never have happened without the quiet and lack of structure of these last months.
"Where your eyes go, your head will follow."
I see the back wall. I see spring. I see my teaching and my book in the world offering the hope of healing and the promise of transformation. My head believes.
photos from Flickr