A forgotten yoga pose and a favorite Tarot card

Morning, friends!

One of my favorite things to do when I was bored as a kid was to sit on the couch upside-down. I'd fling my legs where my head was meant to be, and dangle my head where the feet are supposed to go, and gaze upon the oh-so-90s brown La-Z-Boy recliner and forest green carpet, perhaps at the TV, perhaps at nothing in particular.

I just liked it.

Sometimes I'd go a while without getting upside-down and then the mere memory of it would prompt me to flip around, the world thrust on its head once again.

Anyone else ever do this as a kid? Or maybe...more recently (err...due to stir-craziness perhaps)?

It came to mind recently because after many moons without taking a Dharma yoga class, I went to my teacher Aqeel's Sunday morning practice and the first pose as always (after the "warm up") was headstand. Without a mere thought, I followed along, gliding my legs overhead, steady, unwavering, gently guiding the pillar of my body as though momentarily it was on auto-pilot, unable to fall or even cling to gravity's commands. 

Beneath that body-intelligence layer, with instructions for a safe posture, started to poke through this voice inside:

"Remember when this was difficult?
Remember when doing this was a whole thing?
Remember when you had to learn to tumble hundreds of times so you weren't so afraid to get your legs up?
Remember when it took little baby steps, and lots of failure? Remember the fear?
Remember when you thought 'getting this pose' was critical to your yoga practice?" 

Prior to that moment, I hadn't done a headstand in probably six months. I don't really practice the shape all that much anymore. And yet, in that moment, it was exactly the guide that I needed.
In the Tarot there is a card called The Hanged Man (I have written about this card and its presence in my life before!) that is all about a change in perspective. In some translations this card suggests that, "By suspending time, we can have all the time in the world." It is a card of contradictions, as it is about forward action, but it suggests that in order to move forward, we must pause to flip around and challenge the assumptions we already hold within us.

Ten years ago, you would never have been able to convince me that one day, I would hold a headstand for minutes upon a time, eyes-closed, without really much thinking about it or giving two-shits about the fact that I could do it.

I also had no idea — for example — that one day, I'd be hopping in my car and driving around the country alone, without my ever-present fear of driving leaving me paralyzed. Two years ago, I would break into a cold sweat if I thought I might have to drive somewhere.

I would not have believed it so, and yet I kept at the trying, trying to shift my perspective by turning the room upside down, each time suspending the notion of my most immediate reality ("this is hard") in order to invite space for one that was quite different ("this is happening").

Had I known that as soon as I found the posture easeful, I would no longer find myself transfixed by accomplishing it, I might have become paralyzed on my journey. In this sense, thank goodness for our blind spots! And thank goodness for the chance to flip the world upside down when we are most stuck, imagining a reality that may or may not come to pass but that moves us forward nonetheless. Thank goodness for the journeys that allow us to know only what we know once we know it.

Were we to linger too long in a future state, we might give up on the practice. And if we'd given up, we might not be (head)standing where we are today.


Try this at home ✍

Sometimes we are inclined to shift perspective and it feels natural (like when I was a kiddo on the couch) and other times we are inclined to shift perspective but it's a reallll struggle. We know we are stuck but we cannot seem to work through it. Next week I'll share some of the ways I've fount to embrace the Hanged Man card, and confront my stuckness head-on.

In the meantime week, my homework assignment to you is to physically look at the world from a new perspective.

That might mean walking down a new street, it might mean laying under a tree for 10 minutes that you usually pass by, it might mean moving the furniture around and looking out the window from a new vantage point. Who knows! Let me know if you see anything interesting.

Worth a read 📚

🧊Moving or gathering outside and shivering your butt off? Good! It's good for ya. Some tips for staying warm when it's cold + some of the benefits of cold therapy.

🔊Why Sound Heals. "Since we now understand, through the emerging field of quantum physics, that patterns emerge via waves of energy, the plates were showing the scientist a similar phenomenon...The seed syllable, OM, for example, causes a certain frequency to imprint upon the ‘matter’ around it, and thus changes the energetic field." (by Christina Sarich)

⚖️ "Visibility matters. Yet obsessing over it sometimes obscures the long-standing challenges of organizing Asian Americans around a single, shared story. It’s difficult to describe anti-Asian racism when society lacks a coherent, historical account of what that racism actually looks like." (by Hua Hsu, The New Yorker)

🏜️ My upcoming retreat in Sedona has ~one~ more spot left. Maybe it's just the perspective shifter that you're needing? My friend and co-host Catherine is also offering a course on Practical Spirituality in April that is going to be amazing.

💌 If you know someone experiencing a health crisis, these tips on how to show support from the wonderful Stef Woods are a super helpful reminder of what to say/do (and what to avoid saying).

🧙‍♀️ This was such a worthwhile long-read, with the catchiest title: "How to Tell Your Husband You're a Witch" (by Lisa Richardson)

Tunes 🎶

Playlist features some new features from emerging artists like Elliott OK and oldie-goodies like Brittany Howard.
Photo credit: Rose Peck
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