Summertime is wonderful. Personally, it also has a visceral weight to it. When I was five years old, I can remember my dad taking our family to Duxbury Beach. He loved the beach. He was a natural seal. At that time, I would watch him swim across where the water met the sky over and over again with weightless grace and ease. On one particular day, he swam to shore and told me that it was my time to learn how to swim. (To fill in the gaps, my parents had seven kids, a convenience store, and very little down time with us so the M.O. for all of us from a very early age was to be taught a lesson, learn it quickly, and move on). We waded out to a slightly deeper patch. I remember my feeling of nervous excitement as the water flowed around my legs while I followed him into deeper water. I was going to be a seal. He asked me if I was ready, picked me up, and then proceeded to let me go. It was literally a sink or swim situation.
My relationship with the water was skittish at best for the years that followed. Summertimes became something I dreaded as my dad gave up on trying to teach me to swim. He sent me to a local pool to test my mettle on the kiddie-side swim class. The lessons were equally ineffective as my fear dulled any initiative to swim. It took decades to unwind the fear, trust myself, and find my inner guppy.
So, let’s fast forward to three years ago to when my son was five. To my glee he had made it through the initial introduction to the water unscathed until one of his instructors decided that dunking him under to get him used to being submerged was the next best thing for him. I watched with breath held at the reaction of my son. You guessed it. He freaked out. After we dried off and left the gym, he turned to me trembling and said to not sign him up for any more classes because he would never swim again. For the next couple of years, (and with the growing anxiety of my husband who is part man, part seal), we would ask Kai every few months if he would like to try again. The answer was always the same and despite my husband’s dismay, I remained steady in letting our son find his way.
Since moving back to the Cape, we’ve enjoyed the view of a beautiful pond that sits right outside our home. The days have been sultry and the best game changer for our family has been to go in and splash each other in the cool water to find refuge from the mugginess. With life jackets on, we’ve float like otters and played, letting time lapse and old memories be. Last week, something shifted. Kai stood up amidst the playing and asked if we could both take off our life jackets. I silently unbuckled and let him lead. He asked me to hold out my life preserver and then proceeded to dog paddle the distance between us.
Inward tears were welling up inside of me as I tried to keep it cool while I watched, giving few cues as he practiced navigating the distance between us over and over again. He had unlocked the door to his own inner water mammal in his own time and with his best navigation-play. Our practice of yoga urges us to embark upon our individual journeys in much the same way. Rather that rushing through to the end of the practice and approaching each posture as something to conquer, we are guided daily to embark upon our movements as a way to see what shows up with grace, curiosity, ample time, and play. We listen, we adjust, we ebb, we flow, we pause in reflection to see where the holds take us or notice if we’ve indeed reached our thresh hold. When we practice in this way, we focus on the positive of how we are being in the pose as opposed to singularly marking off what we are or are not doing in the pose.
As the sultry Summer days go by, we urge you to keep inviting your practice with patience, kindness, and ease even when the temps, humidity, and rain, stir up the crazy feelings. Practicing in this manner disbands the wolves in our minds and transfers with greater resonance into every moment and hour that follows.
We love and honor you and look forward to meeting you where you are at on the mat.
’The first step: We are not try to fix something that is broken;
rather we are seeking to feel into something that is sacred’.
Sharon & Your TYC Tribe