Dither Me This is a weekly publication that presents current, old, spontaneous, or nonsensical musings for the reader to use as a writing prompt, discuss with a friend, lover, or to read and move on. Authors may present questions, creative processes, or thoughtful means to end the week; and while you may still be left staring at the walls, it is not without a new thought mulling the paint into iterative transformation. Thus we send waves into the electronic ether and see what is returned – extending a baton to the world, only a little afraid to let go.
2 – Wind
with Emma Murray
It’s been windy here lately. Last weekend, while climbing on the Bastille in Eldorado Canyon, dirty particles beat into my eyes with such fervor and consistency that I couldn’t keep them open. The calls from my partner below were washed warbles, even though I was only 20 feet off the ground. I was cold. Unless I locked off and pressed my stomach flat against the wall, the invisible force would pry me off, howling high across the rocky outcrops and flooding my ears.
What are you trying to tell me? Do I not belong here?
I went down. It was the first time I’d ever bailed because of wind.
At its best, wind is a welcome refreshment – soothing the bold desert sun. At its worst, it is disturbing and harsh, relentless and intrusive; whipping icy slush into my face, it has even made me cry. I think of the ancient cultures – the Greeks, Egyptians, Indians, and Chinese – and their lure to simplify the complex, mind-boggling nature of matter, forces, and our relationships to them. Wind was a symbol of change for many. Shifts in atmospheric pressure create wind, and as wind blows across sand dunes, for example, it creates new shapes, new massifs. It is breath for the world around us.
One of my favorite aspects of yoga is the way that we practice tuning into the breath, which is, in a sense, just another form of wind. In a prolonged Warrior III, I know how to pull from my core, soften my gaze and focus on one unwavering point. My body’s wind is a resource that keeps me strong. I feel most alive while I’m in transition. The metamorphosing energy, calling upon my strengths as a creative and thoughtful person, is addicting.
As I flow through postures, I like to match one breath to each of my movements. This creates a dance between shapes that is connected to the cadence of my lungs. As I shift, I notice that in attaching breath to movement, my mind starts to dance, too. Some people call this the mind-body connection, and for me, it is driven by this wind. I sit after I dance. Breathe. Move internally. Sit for a while in that stillness, feeling my breath vibrate.
There’s a Hindu tale in the Upanishads that gathers together all of the deities in control of human faculties. They start a contest to determine who among them is the greatest. Which of us can the human not live without? One by one, different gods pull away their respective faculties. As the god of vision leaves, the man becomes blind, but he endures as the other deities calmly observe unaffected, and so on. It is only when Vayu leaves, the lord of the winds and the breath, that the rest of the faculties, too, feel themselves transformed. They realize that everyone can only function when empowered by Vayu. He, his wind and his breath, gives everything else life.
One of my favorite quips to share with my yoga students is this: the breath is the most constant and effortless measure of the little universes in our bodies. How ironic! Change is the most consistent part of our lives, though it comes at different paces; and in a yoga class I recently attended, the teacher (fortuitously, I know) presented another angle. He described a formula: change = decision + doing, where the two components were of equal value. To invoke change you must first decide to do so and then commit to doing it. I see the value if you’re stagnant, or in need of an about face. But, I thought, what about when you are already moving? Or what about when you don’t have the space or the need for a total 180?
My whole life has revolved around an obsessive chase for change. In college, I couldn’t make it through my degree without taking time off. I work, I play, I eat at different times everyday, and I dance in yoga depending on where the moon sleeps and read until my eyes wander. With all the wind this week, I’ll wake up in the middle of the night to lift the blinds, witness the effervescence in the trees.
But, having just signed a year-long lease in Boulder, Colorado – the longest time I’ll have slept in the same room in over six years – I’m trying to understand what it might look like to find my pace in settling. Maybe I can live in Boulder and drive to a new campsite and meet new people every weekend. I can grow plants in my kitchen and pick flowers in Utah to set on my bedside table. I can invest in a set of guest towels and visit friends’ fireplaces around the world.
The howling storm in Eldorado was abrupt and startling; I was moving, or at least trying to, but movement and inherent change are different. And furthermore, subtlety can take place amid torrent transformation. And like that, it is possible to find flow in your own space, wherever that may be. I can unfurl my three-by-seven rubber yoga island anywhere–my new apartment, the airport, the desert–and move my little universe to my heart’s content; or I can close my eyes during a maelstrom on a wall, circulate air throughout me, change out old energy for new – set aside pride and bail, come home and feel content about even calling it that.
Is change only defined by the one who is changed? When the wind howls with such ferocity, how do you listen? Does the equation of decision and action relate to the way you change?
Breathing with love,
Emma Murray is a Colorado-based lover, yoga teacher, and journalist. Her work has appeared in Rock & Ice Magazine, College Outside, Boulder Weekly, and Misadventures Magazine. You can see what she is up to at emmaathenamurray.com
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