Solace in the Solstice Ice Storm

The power and heat came back at the yoga studio Thursday morning. IMG_1480

Yesterday we opened and held a few extra classes to offer some relief for those of you still without power.

Today we are staying open to anyone who needs yoga, shelter, electricity to charge devices, WIFI, shower, food, hot beverages. Consider us a yoga warming center or refuge. Really. Whether a class is going on, or not. (Someone nursed a baby at the studio yesterday, and a lost dog hung out until their owner came for them.)

Today’s special schedule will be:    

10:30 a.m. Yoga Basics

Noon  – Ice breaker yoga (yoga for the whole family, easy flow and fun)

2 p.m. – Ice breaker

4 p.m. – Ice breaker

6 p.m. – Power intensive (hot power)

Please share this and come by. Donations always welcome, or maybe you can just help out with some snow shoveling or salt the sidewalk.

[divider scroll_text=”Solstice, Storms and Solace”]

We lost the power and heat Saturday night, after a day of celebrating the Winter Solstice with live music and a potluck. It was a joyous and lovely day. Then a severe winter storm coated the city with ice, bringing down trees and power lines. The power and wrath of winter had indeed arrived. Reflection and honoring fluctuations and change would demand attention.IMG_1362

The studio was closed for four days. It was too cold and dark for yoga or even to offer shelter to anyone in need. The temperatures had fallen to 35 degrees inside my loft above the studio. I took refuge at my girlfriend’s house, checking on cats, pipes and my tropical fish several times a day.

The first few nights were easier to accept. Why be upset over what you cannot control? Power and heat are luxuries that many do not have. I counted my blessings of health and shelter and food through good friends.

But as time wore on my patience started to erode and the uncertainty of the future created an agitated spirit.

I wanted to sleep in my own bed. I wanted what was familiar around me. I wanted to open my business because if it isn’t open I’m not bringing in revenue. No revenue and the bills don’t get paid.

Despite my yoga and Buddhist practices, I started to feel tense inside, my mood got more dark and depressed.

What if it doesn’t come back by Monday? I disguised my worry with a quiet demeanor and unspoken planning to recover revenue and stay on track. Planning equals control. Right?IMG_1392

What if it doesn’t come back by Tuesday? I start to think maybe I’ll open the studio on Christmas. Yeah, offer a special class? No. That’s silly. Be still and calm.  It’s still fine because the studio would have been closed anyway, so just chill out. I convinced myself that this planning wasn’t control but practice of patience and stillness. (illusion)

Then the Thursday plan is coming into place. If the power is on and if it’s still off. And the thought that it would still be off was starting to choke in my throat. I can’t sustain this for many more days, I thought. I’d have to find a place for the cats to live. The fish had already died. How will I live? I feel like I’m going to crack.

Then I realized I’d been holding on tightly in silence. Not trying to be brave. It was almost like holding my breath. I was clinging tight with the appearance of calm.

Last week I was listening to Gil Fronsdal in a podcast on Equanimity. I suddenly heard him saying: “The more attached we are, the more we cling to things, the easier it is to get ruffled. The less attached we are, the less the mind gets agitated.”

I’m not saying to be less attached to a desire for electricity and warmth. I like not freezing.

But under my appearance of calm and my disguise of Taoist acceptance, I had been brewing up a batch of anger, fear, frustration and blame.

I felt “owed” electricity and heat. I was mad at the power company. I even got envious and angry at anyone who had power. I bristled at the thought of people shopping or going to the movies over the holiday. There are people FREEZING! How can anyone have a good time?

“When the mind clings, the mind is agitated…when the mind is not agitated it becomes free,” Gil said.

But Thursday morning I found the studio with electricity and was able to turn my furnace on.

I started the process of bringing my home and business back to life. I jumped both feet into the busy-ness of business. Cleaning out the fridge and freezer. Shoveling walkways. Scheduling extra classes. Social media posts. Photos. Laughter. Planning a weekend ahead that I hadn’t been able to the day before.IMG_1534

I paused. I pulled myself out of the comfort of self absorption and recalled how it felt just a few hours before to live in the uncertainty. I recalled the depth of gratitude for acts of kindness and community that got me through this ordeal. I gave thanks for the level of non-suffering I had to endure because of the gifts that were given to me.

Gil Fronsdal:”If you’re agitated you can’t see clearly. You can’t see yourself clearly, you can’t see the situation around you clearly. If you want to offer your loving kindness and your compassion in the most effective way you want to see yourself clearly and the world around you clearly.”

I wish I could say I had all this clear insight while I was fearful and agitated. But I have to accept where I am and continue to practice. I hope everyone gets their power and heat back soon. I hope everyone can calm their anger at the utility companies. Yes, things could have been handled better. What situation couldn’t be handled better?

I’m sorry for my anger and bitterness and envy. I’m grateful for a practice that allows me to see these patterns and work toward improving my actions and intentions. So in a way, I’m grateful for the solace I found in the solstice ice storm.

Please drop by the studio if you would like refuge from the cold or just want to share company with neighbors.

Whether you roll out a mat, share a cup of tea or a moment of silence, we’ll be practicing together.





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