I’m making very slow progress with John Muir’s The Mountains of California. It’s all descriptions of trees and squirrels and meadows. He rarely inserts himself into the book. As a reader who loves personal essays and memoir, I’m struggling. It’s as though I’m addicted to story line, to some narrative, plot. I’m left with reading descriptions, which are long and beautiful and try my patience.
John Muir seems committed to only provide descriptions about the mountains of California. I suppose when I have been out in nature, there’s a certain letting go of my story line, which is why I like hiking and being out there, why I want to be out there more. I’ve also learned how impatient I am when I’ve gone camping. What I’m trying to say is that my response to nature and my response to Muir’s writing about nature is pretty much the same. Since he can illicit that same response through his writing, I now admire his writing and have a reverence for him and his closeness to the wild.
To be honest: I also have made up a story in my mind about how he meets a love of his life and the two of them make endless love on Red Fir boughs (He describes that “two rows of the plushy branches overlapping along the middle, and a crescent of smaller plumes mixed with ferns and flowers for a pillow form the very best bed imaginable”), fuck constantly when snow bound in his cabin, and fight and forgive continually.
My favorite part of the book this week:
I never saw a Big Tree that had died a natural death; barring accidents they seem to be immortal, being exempt from all the diseases that afflict and kill other trees. Unless destroyed by man, they live on indefinitely until burned, smashed by lightning, or cast down by storms, or by the giving way of the ground on which they stand.
One of the lovely ladies from my 2011 yoga teacher training signed me up for a subscription to Yoga International and now issues arrive in my mailbox. The most recent issue includes well-written articles about health, meditation, psychology, and yogic philosophy. I’ve never read this magazine before and really loved this issue.
I’m going to share a little bit about the articles inside the issue, starting by sharing sentences that resonated with me.
In “A Posture of Courage,” Christina Sell writes about a stage “where we discover that direct lessons about faith will come through the doorway of doubt, where compassion is taught through pain, where true beauty is revealed only after facing what is ugly, and where courage is found in the dark recesses of what scares us most.”
In “Facing Emotional Turmoil,” Angela Wilson writes:
“Perhaps real freedom comes from being totally okay with whatever inner conditions emerge, rather than total freedom from all unpleasant experience.”
“Beneath Still Waters” is an article excerpted from Essence of the Bhagavad Ghita: A Contemporary Guide to Yoga, Meditation, and Indian Philosophy. Eknath Easwaran carefully and descriptively takes the reader through various stages of meditation. He believes true healing involves both meditation and deliberate behavior. Realizing the depths of yourself is one thing, acting against a conditioned response or compulsion is another, and both are essential for “complete healing.” He writes that kind of mindful action is not easy and “that it can be done at all is a miracle.” My local library has three of his books available so I’m going to read at least one of them. The Undiscovered Country: Exploring the Promise of Death appeals the most to me. Of course it does.
Sara Gottfried writes an article about her personal experience, research, and integrative approach with treating thyroid problems. She states that “we may very well have an epidemic of borderline-to low-function on our hands” and offers a three-step holistic plan supposed to rebalance the thyroid. Personally I’m skeptical of these kinds of plans in magazines because they seem so simplistic. Skepticism aside, the article includes a thyroid quiz, explains how the T4 and T3 levels functions, provides instruction on how to personally asses your thyroid function, and refers to new normal levels. If you have any thyroid issues, suspect you may have one, or are just interested in learning more about a health problem that is becoming all too common, the article is a concise and interesting read.
Speaking of yoga, I’m still teaching a gentle class on Sunday mornings. I always warn people my classes are very slow and meditative. Less like a work out and more like nap time!
In these last two weeks, I started practicing asana (physical postures) again. I took a break because I underwent a lot of surgery this year. The positive of not being able to have a rigorous physical practice is that I rediscovered how helpful vipassana meditation practice is.
This week, one of my favorite yoga studios awarded me a yoga summer scholarship. (Who knew there was such things as yoga scholarships? ) I feel really grateful!