by Katharine Kaufman
We walk from the dining hall up the path, through aspens, and field. We walk alone or in groups of two or three. And onto the road, up into the pines and the indoor/outdoor pavilion. If it’s raining and cool, we walk beyond the pavilion to the lodge. We find our place, lay our mat there and sit or lie down. We are with other actual bodies. This year has been inside and online and not getting to see who we need to see. The grief may feel distant or near. We’ve been too busy, or we haven’t had enough to do. We’ve been worried or we’re not thinking of the past at all. We’re wired and underneath, exhausted. We’re learning to hold our seat. Something is forming about what we can or will not tolerate. We’re thinking of the year ahead. We feel lucky in some ways. We’re here to pause between worlds, seasons, dream a little, write something down on paper, prepare.
We sit and breathe. We notice sensations that have been waiting for us to listen. It’s a relief and it’s not as hard as we thought, and we listen to the other women and find something in common. The days are simple. We begin each day in silence. We sit and then walk and wander. We practice yoga on our mats. Somebody says something and everyone is tickled by it, or something happens, and everybody laughs, and we let go of our struggle and connect to the tender moment. We stand, walk, sit and lie down. After the morning’s silent practice, we talk together about ordinary things.
There is a long stretch after lunch for our own. Together and by ourselves we hike, rest, lean our back to a tree with our notebooks open and pen in our fingers, look at what’s moving around us. Gradually the days develop a rhythm and feel natural, and we’ve slowed, and something has become easy.
We show a friend this is where I chose, and alone we go to the middle of the aspens. We go the big shade rocks. We hike halfway up Marpa point. We go to the middle of a field newly green after the fire. We place five stones we’ve collected around us and place our blanket in the middle and wait to see what’s next. We sit and stand and lie down. We move the stones to widen our circle. We bring them closer in. We watch an ant and listen; can we hear it walking? We write and even close our eyes and doze off. We exhale and cry to be here, in nature/of nature. We ask the flicker to tell us what we need. We squeeze promises into our fists.
When we return from our spot to be welcomed back by the group, we are happy to have done this. We listen and share our insights and expectations. And we are hungry! Someone has made us lunch.
We don’t know what’s different yet as we leave the land. We don’t know we’re a bit slowed and somewhat permeable. In the closing circle, we want nothing more. Now we’re headed home and there is a wide open something waiting to happen. We’re curious, ready to find out.
~ o ~
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About the Author:
Katharine Kaufman teaches Yoga, meditation, writing workshops, and contemplative dance in Boulder County, at Shambhala Mountain Center in Colorado and online. She studied Yoga in Mysore, South India, and taught for many years at The Yoga Workshop and Studio Be in Boulder. Katharine is an adjunct professor at Naropa University. She holds MFAs in Performance/Choreography and Writing/Poetics. Katharine is priest ordained in the Soto Zen lineage of Kobun Chino and Vanja Palmers, Roshis.