Earthworms
by Lynn Ungar

Imagine. The only thing that
God requires of them
is a persistent, wriggling, moving forward,
passing the earth through
the crinkled tube of their bodies
in a motion less like chewing
than like song.

Everything they encounter
goes through them,
as if sunsets, drug store clerks,
diesel fumes and sidewalks
were to move through our very centers
and emerge subtly different
for having fed us — looser somehow,
more open to the possibility of life.

They say the job of angels
is to sing to God in serried choirs.
Perhaps. But most jobs
aren’t so glamorous.
Mostly the world depends upon
the silent chanting underneath our feet.
To every grain that enters: “Welcome.”
To every parting mote: “Be blessed.”

* * *

 

It’s Worm Week here at Daddy & Lilly’s HomeSchool PreSchool. Worm Week sure beats Shape Week which was last week’s theme.

In reality, every week is more or less the same thing; we just brand it differently – kind of like an all-inclusive resort. We play inside, head out on hikes, and then come home to either play inside some more or go out back. In between, we intersperse reading, baking, and dance parties around much needed snack breaks. And of course a bit of screen time so I sneak in some emails and what not.

“Persistent, wriggling, moving forward…” 

On Sunday, I introduced the Yoga Sutra that talks about the process of turning towards and softening as one that requires a long term, serious, respectful engagement, nourished by firm ground: 

I had promised to get back to the “nourished by firm ground” bit as the week went by, having no idea that Sunday night we would get the email from Lilly’s (actual) teacher declaring this Worm Week.

So, basically, I’m piggybacking off the preK curriculum. Even borrowing the photo above that we shot for one of her assignments. (Shhh. Don’t tell.)

I stumbled upon the poem all by myself, at least.

“Everything they encounter
goes through them”

It look me a long time to understand that there was nothing inherently beneficial about a yoga practice. Someone probably could have held my hands, looked me in the eye (lovingly) and told me this. I would have nodded and said, “I know, totally.”  And then, after pausing for a moment or two, shrugging off the awkwardness of having my hands held in this way, I would have asked how to get better at such and such a posture or to derive more benefits out of yada yada technique.

“passing the earth through
the crinkled tube of their bodies
in a motion less like chewing
than like song.”

It’s far more common to go through life than it is to pay attention to how life goes through us.

Until I began paying attention to how everything I encountered “move[d] through [my] very centers” I was unable to distinguish whether I was being skillful in my practice of yoga or in how I wriggled through life.

Expanding my asana practice to include a broader movement palette emerged out of necessity; my body was getting hurt when I hued too closely to some of the more familiar, classical forms. There was a gap between me and that (perfect-seeming, frozen-in-time) form.  Giving myself permission to tweak the classic alignment facilitated my ability to experience movement as asana, a blend of stability and ease.

Or to borrow Lynn Ungar’s words, it left me “looser somehow,/ more open to the possibility of life.”

Of course, that doesn’t mean I have discovered “the new way of practicing yoga.”  Nor does it mean that what works for me, will 100% gar-run-teed work for you. Far from it.

Finding what is skillful in this time and place is the long established way of practice.

Finally, at long last, I concede. I am where I am.  In this perfect patch of ground. Right where I am needed:

“…most jobs
aren’t so glamorous.
Mostly the world depends upon 
the silent chanting underneath our feet.”

There’s of course more to say about this. Deep, profound, philosophical things that I’d like to share with you.

But it’s time to butter Lilly’s toast. And then we’re heading out after breakfast in search of materials for her worm jar.

“To every grain that enters: ‘Welcome.’
To every parting more: ‘Be blessed.'”

_/\_,

Al

Al Bingham leads PostureTweak and Breathe, Move and Rest classes online at EncourageYoga.com. Online classes are $5/class however Project LOVE makes them FREE with the code LOVE at checkout. Use the code 1x or 100 times. https://www.EncourageYoga.com/ProjectLOVE