Posted by: Bruce Black | November 1, 2013

Twists (and Bumps) in the Road

Over time life’s path can get bumpy and twist in unexpected directions, and it’s easy to lose your balance, as well as your sense of direction, as you try to get through that bumpy patch of twisty road.

Surgery a few months ago was one of those unexpected twists and bumps in the road. Sending our daughter off to college this past August was another sharp turn. Turning the page soon on a new decade is yet another bump ahead.

These kinds of transitions and changes in life can be unsettling and disruptive of the routines that we so treasure and cling to in our daily lives. But transitions and change—the bumps and twists in the road—can serve as life’s way of awakening us to the moment-to-moment beauty surrounding us and can remind us to be grateful for each moment.

I came to realize how transitions and change aren’t so much problems or “bumps” but rather gifts comprising the fiber of life itself as I took a road trip with my wife this past month.

We travelled through thirteen states—from Florida to Michigan and back again—as a way of coming to terms with a new stage of our life that seems full of transitions and change.

In the back seat of our car we threw our yoga mat, the pale lavender mat that my wife had purchased a decade ago when she first started taking yoga classes.

Each night we took the mat into the hotel room along with our suitcases so that in the morning my wife or I could use it to practice.

Some of the hotel rooms were cramped and narrow, others spacious with lots of room to unfurl the mat. But once I sat down on the mat, I didn’t notice the hotel room’s features. My practice drew me inward, each pose revealing a new perspective, just as each twist and bend in the road on our way north through Tennessee, Kentucky, and Indiana revealed a new perspective on the landscape as we steered toward a new destination each night.

As I moved from one pose to another, I could see something that I hadn’t seen before—how I stayed longer in Downward Dog than a month ago, how I recovered my balance in Tree Pose more easily while moving my arms as if they were branches, how I bent my knees and opened my hips a little more in Happy Baby—and I began to understand how the road that I was on since my surgery in April keeps changing… and will continue to change.

Each time I set foot on the mat, I felt as if I was venturing into new territory, not just into a new state like Missouri, Arkansas, or Mississippi, where I’d never been before, but into new emotional territory as we traveled through the countryside without our daughter for the first time in eighteen years, a couple again.

Stepping onto my mat and practicing yoga helped me enter this new landscape, as bumpy as it might feel, with a greater sense of security, a sense of confidence that my center could hold, that I could find what I needed and help my wife find what she needed, just as we used to help each other before our daughter was born, regardless of the bumps or twists in the road ahead.

Each morning, our travel mat, the mat that has seen so many changes in our lives, reminded me that the changes and transitions that we encounter in our life aren’t “bumps” in the road but the road itself, and that, as we practice and live our life each day, we become the mat, just as we become the road that we journey on.

Each choice that we make, each action, creates a trail of our moment-to-moment adventure. It’s a trail that serves as a bridge connecting us to our past, even as it points to an unknown future—in our practice, in our lives—that we can discover only by taking the next step.

Practice Journal: Have you faced a change in your life recently, a transition that shook your balance, your confidence? Did the change involve you alone or someone close to you, as well? How does your yoga practice help you keep your balance and find your way on roads that feel bumpy and may twist in unexpected directions? Write: 15 minutes.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for this wise perspective, Bruce. My minor arm surgery has meant that I’m only now slowly returning to my practice, and with significant modifications to many of the poses. I have to say that I haven’t been enjoying it much or getting much out of it. Clearly, I should consider this transition as a gift (especially since my arm will eventually heal completely) rather than an annoying “bump” in the road.

    • So glad to hear your arm is healing. Surgery is a fairly challenging bump in the road, for sure, a twist that, like many yoga twists, is hard to deal with. But just like a challenging pose on your mat, it offers a chance to see life in a new perspective (one that we might not have seen before our surgeries). Hope your arm continues to get better! And thanks for sharing your thoughts here.


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