Even when the breathing stops


November 18, 2012 by annapurnadevika

Kovalam, at the edge of the continent, at the Arabian Sea. November 18, 2012. Ayushya Ayurveda. I’ve been here three weeks. This is where I find myself, alone in India when I did not want to be alone in India. My hoop is here with me, but these past days she is leaned up against the wall, more an imaginary friend than a travelling companion. Although for sure, we’ve had good times, hooping with all kinds of children: well fed children, shy children, children I’m sure haven’t had a chance to play as children in quite some time; with men of varying ages and seriousnesses and degrees of self-importance – humble men, happy men, sad men; with old ladies with fat ankles and big laughter, and maybe a few who haven’t thought of laughter or love in a decade or two.

But now, my weight just somewhat better than the 77 pounds or 35 kilos I arrived here with (embarrassingly with two suitcases weighing in at 4 pounds more than me), I feel toxins and trauma deep within my body. After three weeks of going through the physical motions of treatment but mostly pushing my mind to “get control” of what I’ve been taught/led to believe/decided was all a product of a selfish, self-centered, drama-craving mind, and stressing out over the correctness of each treatment, yoga pose, food combination, negative or positive, negatively positive or positively negative thought, I see: this process should not be rushed or pushed toward a pre-determined destination. As if it could be. The oil, the massage, the (oy) enemas, the humidity, the discomfort, fear, loneliness, oh god the loneliness, the strangeness of this land, the unintelligible language, the inscrutability of the Indian toilet system, the jungle, the sea, the bats, snakes, spiders and lizards, the sound of AH, the mantra, are all working on me – if I allow it.

If I surrender to it, will it bring greater health and well-being? Maybe. It is also possible, I am not being morbid, that I might come to face my mortality here, that after all the effort, I might simply come to know that my body is weak and fragile and that it’s time, not to stop living, but to stop struggling. I have a will to live, to create, to love, be loved, to adventure and explore, to work, to hoop, to sing, to watch children I love grow, to bounce babies on what are sure to become even more wobbly knees, but more so, I have a will to transform, to deepen, to become peace, light, to become. Loving. Awareness. To embody compassion even when I’m furious in feeling myself frozen in the posture of victim. I have a will to spend my days in service, not in self-service.

The attachments I have are so strong, to do, to have, to this, to that, to my anger, pain, fear. To my truth. To my definition of the me called Annapurna. And four or five other names I’ve picked up along the circus routes and costume parties of my life. To things I love. To that black dress and purple shawl. To my mother’s wedding ring. To that great old painting, and that book with the pictures that are like muses on each page, to the stories I will never write, to the performance art everyone’s already done and I still wish I got there first, and oh, to those Betsy Johnson shoes I’ve never worn because you can’t really wear them on Taos unpaved roads without flipping over or sliding around in sticky sweaty feet in Hawaii’s languidly humid evenings. To perfectly folded yards of ancient lace, broken buttons, cracked china teacups and porcelain doll heads. Silver candle sticks. Crystals salvaged from old chandeliers. It’s all so pretty.

If I can exchange my attachments, especially the BIG attachment – change from trying to force what I believe, or what others tell me I ought to be believing, should happen to true surrender to what is happening, and learn to really, authentically, See God in Everything, then I know I will be whole in the unfolding mystery of this journey. I will be prepared and able to allow for true transformation – in whatever form it takes.

For a while, because I was losing weight no matter what I did, I did desire to stop eating. It’s difficult, maddening even, to try to nourish a body that refuses nourishment. It’s like trying to force flowers or coffee or cherries to grow where they will simply not grow. It’s hard to a hard-earthed land that is unyielding to the hand that tills, to love a being who refuses love. But if I were standing in front of a child who was unable to each, I would not withhold food. If I were standing before a woman rendered mute by so much more loss than she could hold in her bare hands, I would not turn my back and refuse to bear witness.

I am here now, with a swollen and distended belly and a heart that I hope is merely waterlogged from too many tears and not permanently shriveled. If I can breathe into the cracked dry places, if I can breathe into what feels drowning, if I can become the breath and only the breath, then nothing else will matter. You already know I love and have always loved and will always love you. I will breathe and breathe and breathe until I breathe no more. Breathe in love, breathe out love. Even when the breathing stops, the love never dies.

I don’t know how much I will write. But in this moment, it seems to me this blog will be about a journey on a road which has many paths, all of which ultimately, lead to home.


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