Where the Sidewalk Ends...

When I first started this venture, by speaking to my community close and wide about the implications of psychological understanding as applied to our yoga-based circumstances, I would often talk about the Shel Silverstein poem, Where the Sidewalk Ends.

The metaphor was relatively simple.

Where the path that is seen ends, the real work underneath the surface begins. We need to get below the surface of our practice and the commercialized version of yoga promises to discover whats really happening under the rock and concrete and the seen world. We need to build skills to be with whats under. Not just enjoy the stroll down the street.

There are times in our lives, sometimes many, when the work on the mat clearly ends, and the real work of our lives begins. The sidewalk ends. The path is no longer clear. The city scapes of known shapes dissolve and we are transported to somewhere else, no less real, but far less known.

We are asked to mine the skill sets from our practices to deal with the consequences of being ourselves and the choices we've made. We have to face pain far deeper than the discomfort of a difficult pose. We have to take a seat of dignity in our lives, more challenging than any seat of meditation. The yoga it seems, is a walk compared to the marathon of emotional work we actually have to do to find our way through.

And yet, the hope is that these practices, have been slowly preparing us for the big-time show. The hope is that practices also serve as a refuge and resource from the intensity of the big-time show.

We practice because we need safe spaces to feel. We practice because we need to fortify these vessels of consciousness, so that when we wake from our dreams of what we thought life was we can see clearly. We practice because we need a place to practice-- being our best selves, being our less best selves, being our hopeful selves, being all the parts that make ourselves.

If you want to live a life where your whole self is invited to the table, you need a place to practice what that Whole (and holy) Self might be. And of course, the various perspectives offered through the lens of shape-making affords a unique view-point into what that whole self is.

This is why perhaps, working in asana, is deeply important. We imprint pathways that work. We dig up the pathways that don't. We improve outdated and sometimes crumbling infrastructure. We both deconstruct and pave.

And one day, whether it be soon or far from now, the sidewalk will again end. You will be lost. The worlds you know will disappear. And the work on the mat will be have been just that--practice.

I'll see you there.

Livia ShapiroComment