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Integrating Practice into Daily Life

“The practice is different, now, from Thailand. Its not lush rainforests, dripping outside, and dimly lit pavilions and hours of silence, stretch and sea. Thailand was a place of deep introspection, becoming present with self and heart, and in that delicious seclusion of self-absorption, discovering the bliss of the present.

Now the practice is one of domesticity. My retreat, now, a moulting mat, squished beside the futon and printer in the spare room. I practice. Dynamic, yin, sitting, shavasana. A snuffle at the door, the black nose of my puppy. A cry and scratch.

Now my practice on the mat, is interrupted and intruded upon, but the devouring practice of domesticity. Thank Grace for that. Perhaps my hips will never rotate and abduct in quite the same way again, but in a moment a puppy has climbed upon me, covered me with exuberant wet kisses, and I am present and complete in the moment. Her hunger wins over, and now my fingers smell like dog meat, she’s just peed on the floor, and I stay present, stay present. On the mat, my practice is a true flow, one pose at a time, never knowing what will come next. A forward bend, a back bend, or a puppy urinating on the floor.

My practice eases and gives way, spreading itself generously into the mundane and routine. I feel the pegs my fingers as I hang out the laundry, watching the wind shift through the mango tree. I am aware of the subtle warmth of satisfaction brewing in my belly, as I wipe, and clean and make my home. As I lay my head on husband’s chest, and the puppy bounds in, never one to be left out, and a lazy moment of affection morphs into an overflowing eruption of new family love.

I am so grateful, for what was learnt, was is always learnt, on the mat. To catch the mind designing the next posture, and missing the one it is in. To spot the mind as it reaches for past, plans away the future. How it makes restless excuses to get up off the mat, to shift the body, to move away from the present. I watch that practice grow fingers, and walk, and reach, and move into my whole my life. Perhaps tomorrow, I never make it to the mat. But my puppy will teach me, when she chews through my power cord, and I catch the fear and rage before it explodes. Or I don’t, but I notice it as it happens. My husband will teach me, my work will teach me, as I swim my laps, or walk to work, and sink my awareness into my feet, and into the breath passing through me.

This is the practice of domesticity. I find, in my ability to be present, the gracious gift of satisfaction and contentment. The restlessness eases, or if it visits, it passes through. And I stay, with my feet pressed into the ground, a puppy warmly pressed against my legs, and my fingers in soaps suds washing the dishes. This is
grace: not that love, and satisfaction can be found on a beach in Thailand, but that it can be found here, in the moment, in a life filled with work, chores, rental-agreements, breaking down cars, marriage and an un-toilet-trained puppy. This is grace. To be present in all of this, and still find that inexplicable fullness”.

By Caitlin Prince, Still Flowing Graduate and Assistant Teacher, Occupational Therapist and Yoga Teacher (prince_caitlin@hotmail.com)

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