When I learned my sweet friend Erinn, whom I met during my Costa Rica adventure a year and a half ago, was coming up to SF to sing during Grace Cathedral Church's donation based Yoga on the Labyrinth I thought, how have I never heard of this before!? And heck yes, count me in!
Excitedly, I emailed my core group of gal pals inviting them to share this experience with me. I pictured us all surrounded by gentle light trickling through the stained glass windows, stretching and breathing with one another, soaking up the good vibes being sent out in this beautiful, historic and blessed San Francisco landmark. This is going to be a great Tuesday, I thought!
And then, much to my disappointment, all fifteen women either declined for one reason or another, or didn't respond at all.
Ego: Hrumph. Well fine then. Everyone sucks. I guess I'm not going, either.
Spirit: Nobody sucks. Maybe you should go alone? Maybe that's how it was meant to be.
Sans gaggle of gal pals, slightly begrudgingly, I made my way over after work.
And oh, honeys.
I am so, so glad I did.
Above us hung a splendid art installation of gently swaying, colorful ribbons that cast dancing shadows on our mats below. A (surprisingly young) Priest (who actually participated in the practice--right on, Father!), began the class with a mini sermon of sorts And my favorite part of his message came from his thoughts on love and how, just like yoga, it is very much a practice. While we hope that it comes to and flows from us naturally--while we occasionally assume that it is something fully, inherently, within us from day one, the truth is that love in it's highest, most splendid form is something we can only totally understand...totally appreciate...if we take the time to nurture it through practice. Kind of like a Love trial and error, if you will. Or perhaps a Love trial and trial, since error sounds so negative.
"We can only learn to love by loving" he said, quoting Iris Murdoch, the late Irish writer.
We moved together, this group of maybe 60 or so people; men, women and even a few children of varying yoga experience levels. We moved together to the effortless and lovely sound of my friend Erinn's voice, who accompanied Ryan Brewer's equally captivating sound both vocally and from his harmonium. We moved together and chanted Om together, sending tiny vibrations throughout the Labyrinth that you could practically feel on your skin if your eyes were closed.
The most powerful moment for me personally came at the end of the practice during Savasana, when Ryan sang a hauntingly beautiful rendition of Hallelujah while playing his harmonium. The moment the first verse flowed from his heart, I felt my eyes begin to prickle with tears. I don't know if it was the song or the practice hitting me in certain way. Perhaps it was because of the beautful church surrounding; this place where so many have come over the years to talk to God in their own ways, to pray, to ask for help or forgiveness. To give thanks. Whatever it was, as Ryan sang I felt my heart expand and open with gratitude for deciding to forge ahead with this experience, even though I was alone. With my ego pushed aside, I was able to quietly accept the humble tears trickling down my cheeks. I was able to learn about love by doing something loving for myself.
"Practice makes perfect" is so yesterday.
But "practice makes love"--now that is something to strive for.