"It's as if a great bird lives inside the stone of our days and since no sculptor can free it, it has to wait for the elements to wear us down, till it is free to fly." Mark Nepo

Monday, February 1, 2010

Where Your Eyes Go

"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


Janna Leadbetter said...

I think our hearts follow, too.

Carrie Wilson Link said...

I love that your head believes. It's downhill all the way from here!

hooray said...

"wondering if a tattoo would help" I spit my diet coke! I love you!

I love the way you write!

I'll go with you to get a tattoo! ;-)

Mark Lyons said...

Keep following your eyes...and remember where they are focused. And if you need any reminders, remember that I am here.

I love you

Ask Me Anything said...

Hey, I just started, too--and am as tight as a teenager's first joint. The "loosening" and "sinking into it" has yet to find me. This helped.

Suzy said...

"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. "

Seems to me your focus is pretty much on target.

You are where you're supposed to be and at the same time you are teaching others that simple but complicated philosophy.

Great writing, as always.
Thank you Deb,



Kristen Torres-Toro said...

I just finished yoga, so I know exactly what you're talking about. I lost my balance a lot today because I lost my focus. Great analogy!

colbymarshall said...

For me, it's always head follows heart and heart follows head in a big circle :-) Pretty post!

Midlife Roadtripper said...

We never know where the paths we choose will take us. What a pleasure it has been to walk with you on this journey. I think you have had a tremendous half year.

As for that book? I can appreciate that. It served its purpose, and now, just think where you will go with all you've learned.

(I skipped Yoga tonight. I'm bad, I know. But I did abs with 7th graders this morning in PE. Didn't know if could get up off the floor twice in one day!)

Go Mama said...

Love this. Just keep breathing. And moving. And surely, transformation will come.

Jessica Nelson said...

I learned this with biking. I'd go off the trail and finally my stepdad told me that the bike would go wherever I looked. Amazing, it's true. If I kept my eyes on the trail line, my bike stayed on it.
Interesting that the same is true for yoga.

I'm sorry about your book, but that doesn't mean it'll be under the bed forever. I think it's great that you get to teach writing too. What an experience!

Wanda said...

"Wondering if a tattoo would help." That's where my mind goes during yoga, too. My teacher says if you are thinking about anything other than right now, you are not doing yoga. Guess I don't do yoga so well.

You, however...I love your writing.

Rick said...

Great post, Deb!

I've been a practitioner of what's called "wall kung" (face the wall chi kung), and we have to face the wall as we collapse down then rise up over and over again with our nose only an inch from the wall. Staring at the wall prevents our thoughts from wandering (that's the idea, anyway), and I thought that looking at my art through yogic eyes was very, very interesting. Thanks!

Tabitha Bird said...

Ah! Yes, so true. And where the mind goes the life follows... :)

Amber said...

"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."

Oh my gosh, my head beleives it for you, as well. As does my heart.


kario said...