Yoga’s come a long way, baby.
When my mother took yoga classes 40 years ago, she
was weird. She was dabbling in something cultish, Eastern (as if that
didn’t say it all), nutty-seedy vegetarian and bound to zip down a
slippery, chanting slope to moral corruption. Yoga ranked right up
there in weirdness with her backyard compost pile. Now we call a
compost pile. Then, my mother was the woman who dumped leftovers on
the back lawn.
She also meditated. I was with her at a
Transcendental Meditation workshop when I was six or seven. All I
remember is lying on a gymnasium floor with too many strangers, trying
not to laugh while being told to relax.
Here’s the thing. The physical practice of yoga is no
longer weird. Half of Hollywood does it, which is enough to make the
rest of us feel mainstream while standing on our heads. Yoga clothes
are now accepted enough to wear to work, to lunch, to sleep. (I
remember moving to a small town in Northern Ontario in 1989 and
wearing running tights into a corner store. Before I arrived home,
rumor had spread that the new chiropractor in town was out shopping
in long underwear.) Men now do yoga, which would have freaked even my
mother out 40 years ago. Kids do yoga in schools. Not in huge
numbers, yet, but it’s happening.
Yoga is in. It’s fun. It’s here.
I hope, hope, hope, that the meditation part of yoga is
making its way to great numbers of us along a similar course.
Meditation, though not as weird as it
was (what the heck, you just sit there, doing nothing?) has
only recently begun an accelerated spread into schools, prisons, hospitals,and evening
classes in gymnasiums. David Lynch is the only Hollywood name that
comes to mind.
I’m surprised that people still
arrive at my Facebook site, where we talk a lot about meditation, asking, “How to do I begin?” I forget that meditation isn’t as automatic a
practice for most of us as our asana practice.
If you haven’t already included it as
a part of your practice, you’re in for a good time. Meditation is gorgeous beyond description.
David Nichtern is fun. He’s a teacher of Buddhist mindfulness meditation. Here is his take on
how you can begin to include meditation in your life.
I hope it becomes a part of your trip
if you’re ready for it. I hope it carries you down a slippery slope
to your true nature.
Let me know how it goes.
Thanks to the yoga tree for having more
than one branch. Thanks to you for the conversation,