Returning to the dance.
I have been sick. Hence, the lack of writing these past couple weeks. I have a recurring health issue that arises virtually whenever I get the least illness, as I wind up coughing for weeks on end, sometimes long after the illness has been dealt with. Even now, as I write this, while I feel like a normal, healthy individual, I must pause every few minutes to turn my head and exude something between a cough and a sneeze.
It’s as unpleasant as it sounds.
More to the point, it means my exercise routine has been clobbered as well, and after sitting around for nearly two weeks, I can’t expect to throw myself back at the wall with the same fervor as I had before. My lungs still aren’t ready, and my body is now used to long inactivity. And I have said time and time again: what is yoga without the breath but fancy posing and needlessly twisting oneself into knots? It’s self-inflicted torture.
But what of those of us who do fall by the wayside? What can we do? Is all hope lost?
I don’t think so.
It’s times like this that we need a soft reset.
This track has a special significance to me. In my third year core class of acting training, we would throw juggling balls to one another in a zen-like trance, and the teacher would always play the same album. This was track 1. Now, I cannot hear this song and not slip into the same sort of meditative “zone” that we were encouraged for nearly a year to slip into. One might ask: is this hypnotism? Yes. But now, I am the one who pushes play. I am not ambushed walking down the street and suddenly start looking for juggling balls.
Aside from its special place in my heart, “Cristofori’s Dream” is a unique track in that it seems built on the foundation of slow, focused movement. The piano line chimes like a music box, and regularly I envision an impossibly slowly spinning ballerina. This vision is quite necessary, as we think of the balance between distraction, routine, and ritual.
At rest, we chide ourselves for being inactive, and often launch ourselves into distractions. TV, food, games, anything to occupy our time before our next big thing. Soon, recognizing we are distracting ourselves, we pick a habit and spin round and round in it until we achieve a sort of balance as our center of gravity shifts; but this singularity isn’t from anything healthy—it’s a rut that we run in. It’s that sense of meaningless business that is actually the enemy of productivity and development. Freedom from this comes from focus, and that requires slowing down, sometimes stepping back…but not returning to the lack of activity that started us out on this crazy spiral in the first place.
It’s a balance. A dance. Distraction, routine, and ritual. This is what you will live with for the rest of your life. With any luck, we’ll find things like this, or friends to keep us pointed in the right direction. And will we fail? Surely. Time and time again, we’ll find ourselves facedown in the dirt, or spinning out of control. The important thing is recognizing these states, and that requires an objective, inwardly-turned eye. This is just as important to yoga as the asana itself.
Above all, be kind to yourself. To move impossibly slowly is superior to both moving too fast unwisely and moving not at all. Then you are neither runner nor sloth, but dancer.