Once in a blue moon, I have one of those perfect yoga practices.Every posture – even the ones I’m still learning – is graceful. My breath is even and as steady as a metronome. My mind and body are purely focused on each movement and each sensation. My awareness is still and quiet, sensing the “me” beneath all the doing and thinking that fills my days.
The first time I had a practice like this, I assumed I’d crossed some magical yoga threshold. I thought, “I’ve finally got this! I’ve figured it out!” I believed my practices would be like that forevermore.
Years and years later, I know better. They are rare.
I had one of these perfect practices on Saturday. When my husband asked (as he always does), “How’d you do?” I smiled and said, “I had one of those practices that keep me practicing.” He got a faraway look on his face and told the story of standing in a stream all day long with no success, and, just before he was heading home, he cast his line perfectly toward a glimmer of movement. He caught (and released) a brown trout so beautiful that he’s never forgotten it. “That was perfect.”
Which got me thinking about other perfect moments. I remember two or three tennis matches when, truly, every shot I took went exactly where I wanted it to go. I’ve had one round of miniature golf (gosh, I love that game!)when putt after putt dropped easily into the cup and I actually beat my brother. (I still have that score card.) I can recall a handful of times at the piano when the music seemed to flow from someplace deep within and even I (my own worst critic) was in awe of its beauty.
I texted a yoga friend after my Saturday practice and she shared a fascinating story. Recently she found herself really upset about something she hadn’t let bother her in ages. In the midst of the storm of her emotions, she realized that she was more upset about her reaction than she was about the actual thing. “Dammit,” she muttered to herself, “I thought I was over this.” Before she even finished that thought, she realized that this was exactly the way she reacted during the day after her first perfect yoga practice, when things were decidedly less than perfect. “Dammit! I thought I had this figured out!”
We were both laughing knowingly as we put down our phones.
These pinnacle practices are not something I earn or deserve. They are gifts. Shimmering, alluring moments that ensure that I continue to unroll my mat every day. They are hope. They are inspiration. This is true for all of the perfect moments that pepper our lives.
I’ve noticed that, anymore, I very rarely respond to such moments by thinking, “Yay! I’ve got this at last!” Probably because I’ve grown accustomed to the incredibly long stretches between such moments. These days, it is more likely that I receive them as the gifts they are. Surprises, always. But not wholly unexpected. For the perfect moments I’ve been lucky enough to have serve as promises (guarantees, actually) that another will happen one day if I just keep at it.
The same is true for you too, you know.