Ebb and flow, everyone. Ebb and flow.

“Let go your thoughts.” Portia, the yoga teacher, gently suggests this a few times in the first half hour.

I try of course, even though it is ironic that it takes effort — and it really does — to let go. A thought is like a rubber raft on water, and I nudge its pliable edge. The thought floats away, yet it floats back.

About one time out of 10, I experience the state of gone thoughts. Once, my thoughts were so gone I even felt my inner state exert an almost hand-like effort, reaching for and coaxing them back. But thoughts kept floating away, slipping and shapeless.

Nine times out of 10, the most I can do is let go of my emotional attachment to what may be on my mind. This happens mostly when I’m on my back with my eyes closed. “Oh, so I’m thinking that,” I think, and I watch it like a movie without a plot. But I watch.

I have persistently wondered if I’m just not a yoga person in the mental way. Most of the time in everyday life it’s hard to look at my thoughts dispassionately.

We end yoga in sitting position, and we face the teacher. We hold our hands pressed together in front of our hearts, and our fingers point up. Portia says, “Namaste,” to each of us. In turn, we say, “Namaste,” to her.

Then it’s over.

She tidies the room for the next group as we collect our shoes and bags. Today as she wandered about, Portia said in her low and unhurried voice, “Ebb and flow, everyone. Ebb and flow.”  (Before class, she had mentioned a problem with her cell phone, and I felt relief that she was of this world.)

I grinned and said, “I like ‘Ebb and flow’ so much better than ‘Be here now.'”

Uncharacteristically, she gently huffed and said more sotto voce, “Oh. We could have a long conversation about that one.” She paused; her lips pressed together. “Yeah,” she said with finality.

This felt like a connection. And maybe I am a yoga person.

Image of water plants from a February 2009 trip to the Wellesley College Greenhouses. My spring break is coming up. Time for a return visit.

5 thoughts on “Ebb and flow, everyone. Ebb and flow.

  1. The first step is exactly what you described – noticing that a thought is there. You have even gone further and removed the emotional attachment to the thoughts as you notice them. That is awesome! You sound like a yoga person to me! 🙂

  2. I remember in high school a teacher (philosophy class??) tried to teach us about meditation. I failed miserably, each time I recognized an intruding thought it would just spin off to a dozen more. I did find out much later that practicing Tai Chi was a better way for me to get to that state of letting go and paying attention at the same time. There is something about meditation-in-motion that really struck a chord with me.

  3. It’s a pleasure to be your instructor, Jane. You regularly inspire me with thoughts and ideas that I want to discuss further – HOWEVER, then I myself must remember to maintain the priority of silence, alongside the profuse and perpetual flora and fauna aroused through thought and discussion. Then when next Jane lights my mind with an exciting idea I contemplate its ways through our world, and, here and now, while in ebb and flow. I temper the temptation of the pleasure of exploring the thought with Knowledge’s Mother, silence. For, from where else might the thought come? Through this constant exchange of silence and thought, awareness, knowledge and bliss awaken us through meditation, on and off “topic”. 🙂

    • Thank you for these thoughts, Portia. That’s so interesting to think about: silence as Knowledge’s Mother. I do not always experience “thought” during yoga, but now I’m wondering if the space (silence) that that clears is in a relationship to thought.

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