Making A Move And Taking A Practice With You

It has been a difficult move. About two months ago, my husband and I took up residence in a sublet while our apartment was being renovated.  It is only 15 blocks from the old place, but it might as well be in a completely different city. New grocery stores. New restaurants need to be tried then favored or discarded. I opened a new account at the block away dry cleaners.

Mail comes later in the day, the subway is closer to one place I work but not the other, even my kitchen appliances have different settings. In fact, even though I’m a pretty accomplished cook I started a fire while roasting pecans last week (New York Fire Department to the rescue!) My first ever kitchen fire.

We lived in the other apartment for over two decades and knew the rhythms of neighbors, the sounds of the elevator, the street. Even the length of a good night’s sleep was different there because we faced west instead of east. Now the early light comes through the windows with a different intensity.

Amidst this tumult, I’ve put together a new practice space in the corner of our living room. Sometimes it is cold in the morning. My husband wanders through from time to time.

I’ve been waking earlier and spending more time trying to find the right practice. I sit on a new cushion arrangement for meditation. I face south rather than east when taking Surya Namaskar and I have less room for pranayama prop arrangements. Journaling to record my experiences has fallen by the wayside as I continue to work on getting used to a modern setting of lots of glass and steel versus our classical setting with lots of wood and color.

Psychologists say there are three major stressors in person’s life: death, divorce and moving. During this intense time of change and anxiety, I’ve learned just how important my practice is. It grounds me. It produces a sense of timelessness, spaciousness and balance while everything around me spins around like a Sufi dancer.

In this new and sometimes very frustrating arrangement, I’ve realized that rapid change can be useful. It has forced me to observe habitual patterns that are harmful or have become stale. I can focus on concepts of devotion and love that are everlasting. And on yamas and niyamas – like non-violence and contentment –  that are not merely passive attributes but take concentration and intent (and lifetimes) to attain.

Sure I’m still looking for that perfect moment of peace and illumination. Aren’t we all? But this major shift has made me realize that as soon as I find the harmony I’m searching so ardently for it will be time to move all over again. And I know my practice will remain the way to meet life’s many challenges ahead with grace.

— Brette Popper, Brette is publisher and founder of YogaCity NYC.

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