Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Reading About, Rather than Doing, Yoga

A writing friend sent me a copy of Matthew Sanford's Waking: A Memoir of Trauma and Transcendence.

It does no good for anyone to term it an "overcoming story," but in some ways, I understand that any life with disability requires a measure of what might be term overcoming. 

No disability? Perfect health? A person must still overcome where he is to get where he wants to be.

But I hate "overcoming" in relation to a life with disability; overcoming implies the disability becomes irrelevant. I'll never overcome my disability because there will always be physical things my disability keeps me from accomplishing.

But this post isn't about me; it's about Sanford. As a middle-schooler, he was paralyzed about three decades ago in a car accident. His father and sister were killed. His mother and brother survived relatively unscathed. His paralysis left him with enough movement to care for himself, albeit with some significant worries because of steel rods bracing his spine. He finished middle school, high school, and earned a degree in philosophy, but then he turned to yoga and as he writes, he reestablished his mind-body connect, changing his life. By "reconnect," I don't mean that he can now walk, but rather than he has become aware of the part of his body isolated by his spinal fracture, and he lives a successful life as a speaker, advocate, and investor.

I understand the essence of yoga, and in fact, I do a bit of yoga'ish mental stuff, especially at night, but I would like to learn more.

The book reminds me most that we each come to some sort of resolution with trauma (reduced that to "circumstances" or inflate it to "life") in our own way. Yoga was Sanford's. I am not sure what my own is, other than perhaps somewhere along the way I decided to step away from self-pity and attempt to be happy at least in the moment.

String enough moments together, and things go pretty well.

I suppose some people -- alcoholics, drug addicts, chronically angry people -- never resolve those issues. It's a funny world.

I suppose too part of the success -- no, let's say my personal success, to whatever degree I've succeeded -- is to cling to logic, in the reality of day-to-day life, in accepting things as they are.

That is my yoga: what is. 

I write this knowing that acceptance is only part of what Sanford discusses in relation to disability, or living with a disability. The other part is physical, an element of his thesis I've not fully resolved in my own mind yet.

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