Sunday, November 23, 2014
Rhoda, her white fluffy bangs covering the top rims of her glasses, bent over me and tweaked the arrangement of my bolsters, blocks, and blanket. It was a somewhat complicated design— one I’d not seen before. The one bolster I’d put horizontally across my yoga mat wasn’t quite low enough to support the bolster that balanced on top and ran parallel to my spine. The two blocks on either side of the mat on which I was to place my hands as I might on the arms of a lounge chair failed to (support) my wrists, an apparent essential in the pose. Once the props and I were resituated, Rhoda walked to the prop room and returned with an eye mask filled with malleable flax seed that, once placed, molded over my forehead, eyes, and upper cheek bones like one of those bean bag chairs so trendy in the 1970s.
“I’ll guide you through to begin,” Rhoda said. “Then you can continue on your own.”
I didn’t like guided meditation. (I still don’t). I wanted to do my own thing which usually meant repeating the mantra I’d been given after taking a transcendental meditation class soon after my first seizure. It didn’t matter that over the years I’d bastardized the two supposedly sacred words chosen just for me and repeated over and over two sounds that changed from one session to the next. Marahirsi Mahesh Yogi would not have been pleased.
That day, I gave in to Rhoda’s soothing but strong guidance as she encouraged relaxing every part of my body from my feet to my belly, from my chest to my third eye, the spot above the forehead believed to be the link between the physical and spiritual worlds.
Now, I’m not sure I understand exactly what the means but often when I close my eyes, focus on my third eye, and concentrate on the in and out of my breathing, I see vivid purple which, I’m told is a “spiritual” color and, as it turns out, my mother’s favorite. Whenever I “see” purple, I visualize her purple bedspread, purple stripes in the matching sofa fabric, the purple placements on the oak table, the purple bath towels, the bathroom rugs, and, most vividly, the purple silk pajamas my mother wore the day she died. Now more than six years after her death, I’m convinced that she’s still hovering about, keeping an eye on me just as I imagined she would after noticing that half-opened eye of hers that wouldn’t close.
Enveloped in purple and open to silence and thoughts, I flashed to the evenings long ago when, before going to sleep, I would bury my head in my pillow and “see” all colors, designs, and little people. All these years later, I don’t remember much about these little people. It doesn’t matter. These special friends were my secret and not to be shared. They made me feel special. They provided something I could count on night after night. They lulled me to sleep. I imagine shrinks could have a field day analyzing what holes in my life I was trying to fill or from what traumas I was trying to escape. So, let them have their fun. As far as I see it, my night visions fueled a vivid imagination that has served me well.
And now all has come full circle. I’m a sixty-nine-year-old student of yoga who lies on two purple bolsters with an eye mask over my eyes instead of a pillow and reconnects to a peace and sense of wonder that was me then and me now.