I am lying on my mat in a yoga studio in Austin floating in a state of suspended animation.
Or that’s how it feels.
The soothing voice of the instructor permeates my consciousness but only in a distant way — as if her voice and my ears are separated by cotton wadding. This is the way it’s supposed to be; My classmates and I are in the relaxation/meditation part of this class and the goal is to stay awake but to paradoxically also let go completely. So completely that when we’re “awakened,” we will have the equivalent of a three-hour nap of rest under our belts. As I float, my mind drifts to the concept of control. I am realizing more and more how little control I truly have in so many areas. My aging parents for example. I want so badly to be closer to them — we are separated by 1,200 miles and the complex detritus of our separate lives.
I cannot control whether or not my mother decides to make an appointment with her doctor to figure out if the “fogginess” she’s been displaying is a normal part of her 75 years or something else.
I can’t make her leave the house on a regular basis and engage with the bigger world. I can’t ease the restlessness in my father that has been his hallmark since boyhood, nor can I seem to coax either one of my parents to come to Texas for a visit. Meanwhile, my limbs are heavy and firmly rooted to the earth and I am as close to sleep as one can be, though the teacher’s gentle instructions are continuing. I feel warm and safe and loose-limbed. Control issues are at the heart of so much of our discontent and frustration.
Babies and toddlers want to control the new environment they inhabit so badly that they throw a tantrum when thwarted. Couples bicker over who will control certain aspects of their relationship and teenagers often control their destiny by rebelling against hovering parents. I personally want to control our upcoming move to Virginia in ways that I can’t.
Right now, I have no idea what awaits us there (aside from the comfort of knowing that Rob’s family is in the area). House-hunting from so far away is proving to be difficult, and it seems the minute we’re interested in a particular house, we learn it is already under contract. We vacillate between wanting to rent or buy, searching valiantly for a semi-new house with a fenced yard, four bedrooms and good schools nearby. But none of that is bothering me at the moment. I am so relaxed I am almost drooling.
Two years ago, when I was in training to become a yoga instructor myself, one of the lead teachers used to say that drooling during deep relaxation is a good sign. So I must be doing this right. My thoughts sway and bend like palm trees in the breeze. I have not yet finished my yoga teacher certification training but I intend to. That is something I can control. The reasons I haven’t finished it are ostensibly because I got busy with writing and simply didn’t have time, but perhaps the real reason is that I simply wasn’t ready. Now I am. As I sink deeper, I make a random list of the other things I can control these days: Whether I choose to floss or not, how I react (freak out or speak calmly?) to my boys for repeatedly leaving their balled-up, dirty socks on the floor, and whether I order a pizza for dinner or put in a few extra minutes to throw together a healthier soup.
I am vaguely aware of the yoga instructor telling us to return to our conscious selves by making small movements. Truthfully, I don’t really want to—being in this relaxed state feels so much better than dealing with real life. Other things I cannot control: The safety of my husband as he continues his deployment in Afghanistan, though of course I can pray and hope and believe that all will be well. Now we are being summoned to come to a seated position.
I take a deep breath.
Feeling renewed, I reluctantly roll myself up and open my eyes to face the world again.