My feet hurt every time we go into Tree Pose (Vrksasana) at yoga. I finally told Taunia (my favorite yogini) about the pain after our practice this week. She didn't seem surprised. She said that she noticed whenever I go into this standing pose my toes curl up ever so slightly, as if I'm trying to clutch the ground below in order to stay standing. I put so much pressure on my one foot as it holds my entire body. I can hardly be present to the pose because I'm so ready to get out of it and relieve my foot of this pain. My attempt to stand firm is in vain; I often lose my balance, and it always always hurts.
"Sink into the pose," Taunia recommended. "Lift your toes, relax them and return them to the ground as if you're sinking into the earth, like you're standing on wet sand."
I thought of this advice again several days later as I reflected on questions friends have asked over the last week—this first week of 2010. What's in store? What's on the horizon? What are you most looking forward to in 2010? What are your hopes for the year? What are your plans? Career, art, love?
With each question I was made more aware of the great amount of pressure I put on my soul when I "curl my toes" and cling to my past hopes or try to grab and hold my ideas of what my future should be. I'm following a guy who tweeted yesterday, "dear life. help me understand you." I laughed. I, too, would love to make sense of life these days. This may be why I cling. If I can hold on to "what was," life might make sense. I might find unfulfilled hopes finally fulfilled. If I can craft a perfect "what will be," life might make sense. I might experience great bliss in this story I write for myself. And, just like in the tree pose, my clinging is in vain. I often lose my balance. And it often hurts.
Life—most especially when it makes the least amount of sense—is best lived in the "what is," the now. All I can do is relax, let go and sink into the now like when I stand on a beach as the water rolls over my feet to kiss the last grain of sand before it flows back to the sea, and I feel like I'm being carried away into the ocean. But instead, I'm just settling more deeply into the sand. And it feels good.
May we all honor the memories of our past, and may we never stop dreaming. But may we open ourselves most to the lessons, beauty and gifts of the now and find our feet sinking beautifully into it.