Soul Pose came through Michigan and more accurately Grand Rapids last week, one of several towns on the traveling Yoga events' Fall tour of cities including Los Angeles, Austin, and Montreal, QC. Dubbed The Happiest Yoga on the Planet, "the laid-back, no-pressure environment" gathers together all-level practitioners for several blacklight yoga classes throughout the day, employing body paint, confetti and a fun community experience. I rented a space outside the conference hall/yoga studio a bit last minute, as the Western Michigan yogini crowd definitely fit the retreat center profile. ArtPrize is also on, the open, independently organized international art competition with pieces exhibited every Fall for 19 days throughout downtown GR — in museums, parks, on bridges and in vacant storefronts.
Speaking of vacant storefronts, the day was certainly an experience. After each class, a river of event attendees - mostly females sparkling in neon paint and the post-class afterglow - flowed into the hall en route for the La Croix water stand and other booths. To paraphrase writer Ramon Carver, I'd then put on my best smile. Then I held it. I held it until I felt my face pulling out of shape. That makes me laugh out loud as I write this, however, at the time - not so funny. Usually the experience of promoting my place is extremely upbeat, with feelings of gratitude coupled with the positive service vibe. But sometimes hocking The Higher Haven feels completely dispiriting, offering me a whole new unforeseen vista of crummy emotions.
My own sensitivities considered, I'm always happy for having developed some degree of meditative skills. I'll joke now that these abilities allowed me to feel my own self-loathing with enhanced precision. But as my meditation teacher Shinzen explains, part of the problematic nature of the homo sapien is continuously having incomplete experiences. "If you have a complete experience of depression, or even of buttoning your shirt, you could become enlightened spontaneously", he half-jokes. When we open ourselves up to this fullness of feeling, turning toward rather than away from pain, especially of mind-states we find distasteful, things tend to harden less and shake loose more. This action I've heard referred to as Leaning Into The Sharp Points.
Making this very motion, one of stillness but a shift in awareness, relaxing in the center of my fear and discomfort, helped everything quickly right itself. I most likely crossed paths with folks I was meant to, made contacts, had some laughs, and even jumped into the 2:30 class. Near the close, one person lingered, looking over the wild flowers and Hanblecha blanket that made up my sacred lil' space and said, "I'm not sure exactly what that is over there, but it sure looks peaceful." That was a great reminder that we possess knowledge and creativity here that is very rare and currently very relevant to the human condition. With a bit more perseverance, patience and time, we'll continue to act our dreams with open eyes, making all things possible.