One way of knowing that I’m truly engaged in the rest of the world, plugged into the matrix of the universe, is how many moments of synchronicity I experience. Back in the day when I was doing 60+ minute yoga sessions almost seven days a week, I was totally in the flow–not just a juicy physical flow but immersed in the flow of the world around me. I experienced coincidences all the time: I’d run into people I was just thinking of; a song would come on the radio just as I wishing that particular song would play; I’d contemplate a big trip to China and then come home, switch on the TV, and come face to face with a travel documentary about China AND get a phone call the same day from a Chinese woman (true story!).
I find that as my yoga practice dwindles, so do these special moments of connection. Maybe they’re still there, but my receptors just aren’t on. Life without yoga and breath is like living in a house with the blinds shut all the time: Everything is still out there–those people, that music, those opportunities–but I’m just closed off to them. I can go about my life just fine, but I’m shrouded and shut off from those moments of brilliance and clarity.
However, for the past few months I’ve been very committed to beginning each day with some meditation and pranayama. Nothing crazy–no more than 10 minutes in the morning–but I just have to do it. I missed being in tune with myself. My brain felt foggy from my stifled breathing and lack of oxygen. Plus, I recently listened to an interview about pranayama with Larissa Hall Carlson on a Kripalu Perspectives podcast; I took a few classes with her during my YTT, and she freakin’ blew me away. She is the Queen of Breathwork, and I remember feeling like I was dancing on clouds after 90 minutes with her. Her podcast interview was very inspiring and reminded me about the importance of those two little words: inhale and exhale.
So each morning, I do little nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing), right-nostril breathing (the “solar” side), and then finally kapalabhati (cleansing) breath, which is like the extra-caffeinated version of breathing exercises. (I took time this morning to use my neti pot beforehand, and WOAH, each breath was like a shot of espresso in my brain!)
What I’ve found is that as I am getting reacquainted with my breath, those much-appreciated moments of synchronicity are returning. Slowly and gradually I am getting “plugged in” again. For example:
(a) The Dunkin Donuts Dream.
Earlier this week I had a very innocuous dream about being very tired and bored at work, but then looking up and finding an iced coffee from DD on my desk. The coffee made everything seem so much better, and I sipped my cold treat with joy. For me, this dream is actually very odd because I usually don’t have normal dreams. My dreams usually involve terrorist plots, friends turning into aliens, nightmares about taking hundreds of photos in Disney World and then having the roll of film fall out of the camera into the destructive daylight.
The next morning (in real life), my husband calls me from the road and tells me he is stopping by my office to say hi. I greet him outside, complaining about the broken air conditioner (“I’m hot!”) and my lethargy (“I’m tired!”). And then Bryan–having no idea about my dream, and even I forgetting about it–asks me if he should go to Dunkin Donuts to get me an iced coffee.
Suddenly alarms went off in my head, and I may have even pushed Bryan in disbelief in an Elaine Benes “Get out!” kind of way. And then 10 minutes later I was sitting at my desk at work with an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts sitting on my desk, helping me get through the afternoon.
(b) The Black Woman.
During lunch on Tuesday afternoon, my coworker and I somehow got on the topic of how women of different races carry themselves, specifically how Black women exude so much confidence. I talked about my love of African American hair, black skin, and just my overall fascination with women of color.
That evening, I went to yoga class as usual. The only difference this time was that a new student dropped by that night. As you may have already guessed, she was a beautiful Black woman, smooth cocoa skin, and the poise of a yoga model. Up until then, there had never been a Black female in that class.
When I stepped out the front door on Thursday morning, it smelled like Cairo. Perhaps there was a fire somewhere in the area, but the aromatic smell of burning instantly transported me back to Egypt, that smoky and hazy blanket that constantly covered the city. It’s incredible how strong the sense of smell is, and how one whiff of something familiar can take your mind back years ago. A rush of images flooded through my mind every time I inhaled: the green lights strung on the minarets, the dusty streets lined with sheesha pipe-smoking men, the perpetual haze that stuck to the sky and blocked out the stars’ natural glow, the neverending flow of traffic, the browns and beiges of the landscape. I was half expecting to hear a muezzin sing a call to prayer or see the outline of the Citadel in front of me.
That afternoon, our company had a summer picnic. A coworker introduced me to the new IT guy…who just so happens to be Egyptian. He still has family in Egypt! He visits Egypt every summer! “I was in Egypt in 2005!” I exclaim, and suddenly I was engaged in a 30-minute conversation about the country I smelled so vividly that morning.
Bottom line? It’s nice to be back in the “sync” of things. It’s definitely a breath of fresh air. 🙂