Inside and out, I’m feeling much better. Most of the numbness, pain and lack of sensation that I’ve been experiencing physically has been lessening.
One the outside, I lack movement in the right side of my face. Its only been three weeks since surgery — this is to be expected. It’s easy to forget how badly I was injured when I feel so good most of the time.
Its not until I kiss my partner and I feel a silencing numbness in a portion of my lips that I’m reminded of my temporary nerve damage. Reminded of my facial”fullness” ( a doctor’s way of saying swelling from my once-crushed cheekbone). Reminded that my smile is limited not unlike a stroke survivors.
It doesn’t make me feel sexy. And then I’m reminded that its good that I want to cry, because it means the numbness on the inside is wearing off, too.
I love the buddha’s noble truth– it’s our attachment to permanence in an impermanent world that leads to suffering.
Alas. I liked my face the way it was. Everything’s temporary though, right? Perhaps my smile is only limited from a lens of comparison, not from a perspective of presentness. Michael still tells me I’m beautiful and I have to believe him because we try not to lie in our house.
A few days ago, my community had a headline making rally to celebrate unity.
Unless you’re new around here (Hi!!), I reckon you know something about all of this yuckiness and subsequent loveliness. In case you don’t, the nerve damage comes after a random, unprovoked assault on my partner and I outside of our home. “Lovely” doesn’t do the aftermath justice– some pretty amazing things happened. If you haven’t read about it, theres a really wonderful collection of links put together by Mike Graglia.Anywho, the event attracted close to (if not more than) 300 practitioners– on a rainy Sunday afternoon, no less. Twelve teachers taught their take on Sun Salutations. 108 in total. My partner (in my borrowed lulu tank, naturally) did 104. His yoga isn’t typically asana.
Mine (as you well know), is. Today, I could only manage one.
As a teacher, I often caution my students against conflating physical prowess to deeper successes in yoga. In this way, there is room for struggle that doesn’t revel in mastery but instead embraces effort.
At one point today, I couldn’t touch my toes. I tried not to cry.
“…the practice includes instruction on yogic principles regarding moral precepts (yamas and niyamas); active postures requiring mild-moderate physical exertion; and conscious control of the breath in synchrony with active postures; and meditation.”
My understanding is that participants are run through the Sun Salutations and standing postures. After that, he moves to seated poses. Breath and meditation. I decided to give his modified primary a try. This will be my practice for the next few weeks.
A line from Dan John’s inspirational book Never Let Go repeats itself to me most mornings: “One day I woke up fat.” Dan, a former elite athlete, found himself at the bottom of the fitness totem and decided to do something about it. I applaud tenaciousness in my students (it is zeal that allows the process to become progress in physical practice, after all), and Dan has a powerful streak of it.
Resilience must be practiced. As such, no tears; though, you can cry and be resilient, too! I will keep reaching for my feet. I will show tenacity. I will practice with zeal. I won’t conflate my practice with my prowess.
My parents came to the 108 sun salutations, too. We sat on the grass together, sitting tall. Down Dogs and chatturangas are a bit too daunting for my folks, I have to confess. So we sat on the grass and breathed with the group. As one of my twelve friends led a traditional ashtanga surya namaskar (the teacher who taught me primary series, in fact), we modified our practice to our capacity. We lifted our arms up on the call of one (“Ekam!”) and we reached for our toes on two (“Dwi!”). My Daddy bent his knees to help him get to his feet. His practice certainly wasn’t “limited”– your practice is your practice, whatever practice it is.
Mom, Dad, Michael, and a sea of others lifted what must have been a wave of hearts–together, we looked ahead on three (“Trini!). And as most everyone found their way to a pushup position at the call of four (“Chawari!”), Mom, Dad and I sat nice and tall until everyone came back up together. Because yoga is for everybody. Every body. Even my Dad.
And if it took getting popped in the head to get my Dad to share a practice with me, it was almost bloody well worth it. And thats just one of the many silver linings.
I won’t equate beauty with facial mobility. I’ll keep kissing my boyfriend until I feel sexy again. I’ll do one sun salutation until I can do two.
And I’ll keep reaching for my toes. I hope my Daddy and you do, too.