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  • Over the Fluctuating Waves: Navasana, Boat Pose
  • Jacqueline Lyons (bio)

From a seated position, lean back, straighten and lift the legs, and extend the arms out and parallel to the floor into navasana, boat pose. Tilt the hips to balance. Lift the body lightly. Keep the upper and lower halves of the body lengthening away from each other. Sail the self over the fluctuating waves of effort and collapse.

During a winter of eye-level darkness, a version of myself walked the dog down Center Street in Pullman, Washington. She turned along State then Main Street, crossed a small plaza between an empty building and a Taco del Mar to reach the footbridge that crossed Paradise Creek and joined the trail. The creek ran clear, rose, muddied, flooded, then receded. Winter lengthened. Winter ebbed.

One translation of yoga is “union,” as in body and mind, or self with universe, though yoga sutra 1.2, Yoga chitta vritti nirodha, translates as “Yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” It is the summary of all other sutras, both goal and instruction. One reaches cessation by practicing cessation, steadying the line until it disappears.

When I was unattached, I skinny-dipped in a mountain waterfall unabashedly. I left my glasses on a dry rock and felt no one could scrutinize me. Cascaded by water on all sides, I was both more myself, unselfconscious, and less myself, a blurred “she” above the surface of “I.”

In March the empty building in the plaza along the creek was blasted free of peeling paint and received a fresh coat. In April a ladder appeared, then a lightly drawn grid, then a painter sketching out his mural. May and June, a street scene emerged—a block of storefronts with men and women playing cards and drinking coffee at sidewalk tables—first in black outline, then seeping with color. Drip of paint, swish [End Page 549] the southern review of brush. The dog and I practiced walking up and down the street, along the creek, back and forth across the plaza.

In marriage I became ant-like as ballast to ex’s grasshopper compulsions. Someone had to pay the rent, book flights, file taxes, though my true self preferred to stay up late, buy boots, linger in the water until my skin turned blue.

If instead of, Lift the legs, I think, Float the legs, boat pose changes. When marriage became a weight, I looked to language for buoyancy. I practiced Be open and What if everything is perfect exactly as it is. And practiced.

Sea horses and sea turtles emerged beside the mural’s café tables, one sea horse peered at cards over the players’ shoulders, another dipped its nose into a vase of flowers.

To throw in with another is to agree to fluctuation, or possibly to become passenger on a pirated boat. I am held by the thought, Human interactions are disappointing. If you feel you are sinking, you sink.

During the season when the half of me that was married and the half that was my singular self were out of balance, people said, “Oh, I didn’t see you” and “Oh, I didn’t hear you.” Not all transformations are magical. Submerged in effort I could not speak, instinct told me I was in danger of drowning.

Late June, blue poured in around the mural’s storefronts and people, and when it reached the tops of the buildings and covered them, more sea horses and sea turtles appeared, swimming past the storefronts whose newly painted signs told a story on their way to the narrowing horizon. A narrative began at rendezvous cocktail bar, led to diamond jim’s jewelry, next door to weddings inc., and then arrived at the end of the street at able & able, their service named on a sign in the shape of a giant handsaw slicing the blue: divorce.

Ignorance is taking the impermanent as permanent, the impure as pure, the painful as pleasant, and non-Self as the Self. When he still loved me, one of ex-husband’s endearments for me was Lilac Thief. I took long bike rides along the Poudre River...


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pp. 549-553
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