there is an acute noticing of life--the ordinary, the vibrant colors--when preparing to leave a place. as i'm sure there will also be a great noticing when coming back home, after years in separation, to a remembered place. or to your body.
i am noticing in both place and in body.
last week, i was invited to shake my body for fifteen minutes, along with twelve other women who also voluntarily attended a mindfullness yoga retreat. the shaking was to be followed by fifteen minutes of dancing and then fifteen minutes of stillness, all to prepare for the hour or so of breath work. so why not?
a few minutes into the company of solitude closing my eyes afforded me, i began to weep as this loud booming voice in my head said, "just shake. all you need to do right now is shake;" canceling out the woes and worries of the day, remembering if i'd used deodorant that morning or not. and with the permission i gave myself to just be there, shaking my beloved body without shame, i wept in the words, "you are powerful. you are strength, you are beauty." i wept and shook my arms, shoulders up and down, legs in motion. and my tears signaled the yogini to come over to me and whisper sanskrit prayers over me. and then my smiles and gladness overtook the tears while i moved into dancing, blindly, forgetting there were roots or that my arms were only used-to being stuck by my sides.
and then upon my back, we breathed deeply, with mouths open and jaws aching all the while. in and out. heavy. noisy. broken up with the sobs that ebbed and flowed. angry. betrayed. you didn't deserve it. spewing out, being brought up with these murky, full breaths. and the yogi, cued by the tears and sobs, came to me in my most vulnerability, and whispered, "you're doing a good job." i am. doing.
and with the calmness of burnt sage and gentle hands momentarily touching the space above my heart, i slowed. and breath became thought and rhythm: holy spirit / within me . in and out. holy spirit / within me . in and out. remembering the power of the holy spirit that dwells within me. i am powerful, i am strength, i am beauty. and knowing that it is only with the divine, because of the Divine.
so lately there has been mindfullness of me, lined up and all in one place instead of the scattered mind a part from the heart and the emotions and the body. i called to my mind and my emotions, to my heart and to my body, and they all showed up and said hello to one another. hi there toes, i'm so thankful for you. hi there shoulders, good work, always. we met and agreed it's much better when we're united.
and today i lay out in the warm, cooling air by the beach, breathing deep the sound of waves and smell of salty waters. of seaguls and the skin of indian people, turkish eyes, dutch fairness, and the fluidity of the black abaya. noticing. for when you begin to leave a place you see these things and capture it to store in that place of your mind labeled what-i-took-for-granted-when-i-lived-here-day-in-and-day-out-all-the-while-wishing-it-away-but-now-am-sad-to-be-leaving-it-behind.
ben is so loving and generous, shooing me out the door this weekend for my own soul-nourishing time alone. i am taking it here at a hotel in doha and wrapping up a few thoughts that have been swirling this last week. i am concluding the time in doha, saying "see you soon," to a place i once saw as my enemy who had swallowed me in it's scorching sand when i yearned instead for the family that lived between the sylvan in pittsburgh, only to find that it was this "enemy" who became my friend; the only friend who could show me what the rest of the world was like and to show me that i am brave. for it was here that i could smell the richness of turmeric and za'tar, rose hips and burnt incense. for it was from this vantage place that my two small children grew from baby and toddler to children in all of the grace and sweetness that offers those who bare with them. it was from here that i saw istanbul and iceland; the eiffel tower and the colosseum; my husband's strong back in holding our littles on an early morning walk in the harbor near dublin; singing mary-poppins-songs by st. paul's cathedral, falling around our children as they laughed and ran, twirling their british-flag-decorated umbrellas like play trophies.
and i go on noticing.
the friendships that were unexpected, healing, and gave me belonging. the relationships that were stagnant and distant: those i'd wish i'd known deeper. the regret of depth missed out in using this place, experience to draw me nearer to God. many missed opportunities and conversations. still, choosing to see the beauty in the cream, khaki, sea shell, sandy colors of our part of the world, pierced with the canary yellow of saris, the sacred covers of black, fashionable turquoise from scandanavia, patterned kente kufi kofi of rich, african purple worn on fridays.
as we prepare to pack up a few of our things and write "to be continued..." in the qatar chapters of our lives, i will keep on noticing. thankfully torn to leave.