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Moving Meditation

Posted on 09-27-2010 by Elise Joan

5 Things I’m Grateful for Today: 1) my purple lululemon yoga pants 2) rental cars that handle really well 3) low-fat cottage cheese with organic red raspberries 4) Disco Naps 5) my iphone 4’s extended battery life.

Today is one of those days, where you have so much on your “to do” list, that you just want to curl up and cannonball directly into a pint of Haagen Dazs double chocolate chip.  I had 6 classes to teach ranging from Yoga to “Burn Bliss” to Core Sport.  By noon, I had taught over 150 people and done at least 679 chaturanga pushups.  I kept powering through my list, item after item, until finally I finished my last appointment of the day.  Approximately 62 items still remained on my list, but I decided that instead of tackling them, I would instead choose to breathe, relax, and enjoy my “blissful activity” of the day:  An Afternoon Hike up Paseo Miramar with a friend.

I was getting picked up at 3:30, and had literally not sat down (unless you count sit-ups and core work as “sitting down”) since 7:30 this morning.  Nonetheless, I knew I would find a restful heart and mind by enjoying the cool, sunny afternoon breeze and the stellar views of the pacific. SO…. I hopped in the car, rolled down the windows, and off we went for an adventure up Sunset and the PCH.

The first part of this 5 mile hike is no walk in the park.  Rather, It is a steep uphill climb.  The sun, which was so cool & inviting by the beach, seemed vehemently scorching now as it fogged up my sunglasses and forced beads of sweat down my forehead.  After dozens of warrior series and hundreds of squat presses earlier in the day, I am struggling to keep up with my friend.  Now, He finds this endlessly amusing,…. But as a 6’1” former marine with legs as long as my entire body (I may be exaggerating here just a bit), I feel he has an unfair genetic advantage over me.  I keep falling behind, but after about 20 minutes I’m able to hit my stride and find my breath long enough to notice the extraordinary view of the pacific coastline.

The sky is clear, and the water is a cerulean blue that is a few shades richer than I’ve ever seen it.  We continue our trek straight up the mountain, and I’m surprised by how few people we pass, since this route is usually heavily traversed.  I am struck by the stillness.  By the quiet. By the fact that, in this moment, we seem SO far away from Los Angeles, that I would have believed you if you told me we were journeying up the Amalfi Coast of Italy, or along the Adriatic shores of Croatia.  I allowed myself to get lost in the views, and the smell of fresh air, and the jaunty conversation.  I left all the remaining items on my “to-do” list back at my apartment behind locked doors.  I was able to escape.  To release.  To smile.  To laugh.  And…… to let go.  It was as though this hike was more of a ‘moving meditation’, than a heart-pumping workout.  I allowed myself to dive head-first into this experience…. And to breathe.

We finally reach the lookout point, and sit down on a wooden bench which is “dedicated in memory of”….. someone I don’t know, but who was obviously loved.  As I sit there in a moment of reflection, I realize that….. on this clear day, you actually CAN see forever.  Literally forever, because the views reach from Malibu to Catalina to the Palm Dessert mountains.  Metaphorically forever because, at this moment, it seems SO easy to see Divinity in all this beauty.  Without even trying, you can experience a little piece of enlightenment.

The sun began it’s descent much to quickly for my taste, and we made our way back down the mountain.  This time, in the cool shade of twilight.  Just before we reached the bottom, we heard someone call out “STOP!”.  My heart stopped for a moment as I recalled the “Beware of Mountain Lions” sign at the entrance of the trail.  Just as I was wondering if I could outrun a mountain lion (or at least…… outrun my friend), we got a little closer, and I realized…… it was even worse (at least to a ‘Ophidiophobe’ like me)  A rattlesnake had stretched itself across the entire path.  A big, fat, scary, slithering one.  I froze.  I had never seen one.  At least …. never outside of “Man vs. Wild”, and THAT didn’t turn out so well for “Man”.  I’ll admit it.  I was scared.  The rattle on the tail stopped me dead in my tracks.  My friend, who has seen this dozens of times calmly walked right by the snake, encouraging me to do the same, but I just couldn’t.  for a good 15 seconds I was stone cold still, unable to cross the snake in front of me.  Then I remembered 2 things that I am always reminding myself, and my yoga classes.  “Have faith”, and “face fear”.  So…. I took a deep breath (as my friend Shelly is always reminding me to do) and I rallied my inner strength, as I gingerly (or maybe not so gingerly) sidestepped the obstacle in my path.

Unortunately……I didn’t make it.

Kidding!! I survived to write today’s Blog.  But not without practicing some of my life lessons:  Taking time to breathe, finding God in everything and everyone around me, enjoying open honest conversation, exploring a moving meditation, remembering to listen more and talk less, and overcoming fear.  Just like happiness, these things take practice.  And we call this practice….. Life.

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