I once walked into a cold, white waiting room that smelled of burning coffee and observed that the reading materials scattered on the plastic seats consisted almost entirely of full-length novels. It became immediately clear that I was in for a long sit.
I'm still waiting. Still shut off from my future and simmering in the past. Nothing more has been revealed, though the days plug on ever closer to the dreaded truth. What I had hoped would be a hurried process has become a long and painful dredge. I have seen the oncologist. The biopsy is not until next week, and the wait for the results will be another 3 or 4 days. It was just a week ago today that I was first presented with the question of cancer, and I'm not even halfway to the answer. This has truly been the longest week of my life. Every day is an eternity.
So this is what it's like to inhabit the present.
I am keeping with my practice, though the practice is a whole new animal in the present context. Every breath, every moment is vivid and unique. It is terrible and wonderful. Torturous and glorious. Like a climax gone on for too long, everything inside me trembles and I long for rest, but cannot turn away. The practice has been essential to my steadiness of mind as these convulsions have taken hold.
Monday, I had one of the most beautiful and effortless Ashtanga practices that I can recall. So quiet and light. Then yesterday, after my appointment and a long day of making arrangements for the biopsy, it seemed as though Ashtanga might completely fry my nerves, so I opted for an alternative practice instead.
I got out the timer. I stayed. Twenty minutes in Virasana, four minutes in Plank, five minutes in Downward Dog, and five minutes in Virabhadrasana II with a one-minute Chaturanga after each side. Then three minutes in Paschimottanasana, followed by two 2-minute holds in Urdhva Dhanurasana. And finally, six minutes in Sirsasana before Ananda Balasana and a nice long Savasana.
This was an incredible experience. I have used a timer with certain postures before, but never constructed an entire practice from timed holds. It made me feel so solid, so dense, like every step could cause an earthquake. My whole body was alive as a single piece of work, invulnerable. It's certainly not an every day practice, but it gave me quite the energetic charge.
It has been such an advantage during these hard days to have an arsenal of asana, a knowledge of the practice, and a nimble mind to apply these things in a way that serves me in the moment. It is empowering to know that peace is not merely at the mercy of my circumstance. For this, I am grateful.