Staying Power

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.


  1. You, my sweet spirit, will be in my thoughts and prayers. Sending you strong positive healing energy.


  2. i have been checking your blog multiple times a day hoping to see that you received some good news. i hate it that you have to wait even longer for something so huge.

    i started doing yoga everyday about 5 months ago and since then it has become a major part of my life. and you are one of the constant inspirations for my practice! i know you'll be able to handle anything that comes your way with great strength and grace.

    until then i will be thinking only good thoughts for you!

  3. One of the lessons one learns in these situations is that we - I/you - are not in control! Having done what is in one's power to do, the only thing left to do is surrender to the infinite, be, or attempt to be, in the moment. As said so many times in so many situations - "This too will pass".


  4. It's wonderful to read that you are finding help in your practice. I hope if I am someday faced with a challenge like yours I'll have the strength and the ressources to do likewise - and I hope it continues to work for you, to take the force out of this blow, no matter what the message is when you finally get an answer.

    It will pass. I feel the more wretched about this because I am in a place of an ordeal having "passed" myself. Not cancer, but a long and daily struggle, and I am feeling the pressure easing, all the bits of life returning - I feel strange writing it and I will probably always be afraid that it descends again, but for now it's true. I hope that sense of relief will come to you soon.

    I've had so much help from reading about and talking to people online, latest from your blog. It has helped me dare to think I can be strong again, and I have found an astanga yoga studio I might join sometime in the future. Thank you, and for now I send you another hug, and we wait and hope for the best for your health situation :-)

  5. We are all thinking of you, Megan. Keep us updated whenever you can.

  6. I am glad your practice is helping you through this difficult time, and I hope that you will have good news to share soon. My fingers are crossed for you!

  7. Thinking of you...light, love and peace in all that you do. Your spirit is divine xoxo OM

  8. Thank you for the privilege of sharing this difficult time with you, and thank you for sharing your thoughts while you get through it. Your resilience and patient courage as you wait is inspiring. Good luck.

  9. I've been reading your blogs for a while. Your practice & photos are very inspiring. I am very sorry about your health issue. You are in my prayers.

  10. All the best from Berlin, Germany. I am thinking of you and will dedicate my practices until you have good news to share. Much love and good luck!

  11. Thinking of you all the time Megan. Must be a bit like the practice, one practice at a time, one day at a time. Love.