Monday, August 11, 2008

Blessed llama kisses

I'm working on my edits for the book and I'm stuck. So here I am doing some stretches, and scribbling a bit on the blank canvas. Yay!

Friday night I went to the yoga studio to help set up for a screening of a documentary on the Dalai Lama. What do you think came first, the word "Lama" or the Spainsh word "llama" refering to the South American version of a camel? Do you think Tibetans knew that there was an animal with that name somewhere in the world? Of course (I think) they pronounce it "yama" and it's my ignorant butchering of the word that enables me to connect a religious leader with a cute, fuzzy beast. And is it blasphemous for me to make that sort of comparison? I don't know. The impression I got from the documentary was that the Lama is a sweet man with a wonderful snese of humor. He made jokes and giggled constantly.

To set up for this viewing, me and some other work study girls set up folding chairs, covered part of the floor with blankets and pillows, and set up a table with water, assorted teas, and unidentifiable snacks.

"Are those ears?" I asked another girl, pointing to a basket of pale, curled wedges.
"I think they're dried apple slices," she said.
"Ah. That was my next guess."

Sometimes I feel selfconscious around other yogis because I'm still getting to know everyody there, and they're all so familiar with each other. I find myself stumbling over my words when I talk to them, like the other night when I was leaving the studio and a girl named Jenny said, "Bye, have a good weekend," and instead of saying "You too," I repeated exactly what she said to me like a socially retarded parrot.

"Bye, have a good weekend," she said.
"Bye, have a good weekend," I replied.

I'll be 33 next month and I'm still tripping over my words with new people. Whenever I have these awkward moments, though, it always helps to remind myself that, although I'm a little strange, these people sometimes weird me out just as much. For instance, last Sunday when I went to class we had to kiss our hands. Allow me to explain.

We were all lying on our backs, relaxing from some strenuous pose. I don't remember which one, or what bit of flexability and endurance it called for, but I remember that by the time we got to rest my arms felt like they were going to fall off. I did NOT want to lift them, so I groaned a little when our instructor told us to bring our hands to our foreheads and begin to massage our scalps.

She said something like, "Send some love to all the tension in your face and your temples. We're so seldom affectionate to ourselves."

And I must admit that rubbing my forehead and scalp was rather nice. But then she said, "Now lower your hands by your sides. And what I want you to do is take your right palm, bring it over to your mouth and give it a kiss, right in the center. Then bring it back down and do the same with your left."

I think I said, "What?" out loud. I sat up a little and saw the other students beginning to kiss their hands.

"No," I thought. "Absolutely not."

There are some things they do in class that are a little weird to me, but I always make myself do them anyway because I figure that if people have thrived by practicing this stuff for thousands of years then they must know something I don't. But this was registering too high on my weird-shit-o-meter. I mean, really, first we massage and then kiss ourselves? As a group? What exactly would be next? I imagined myself pretending to yawn, stretch and put my arm around myself. "Say baby," I would tell me. "You've got a mighty nice hand. What do you say I smooch one and then the other?"

So I laid there, not doing anything at first, but then I realized something. I know this is going to sound weird but one of my latest anxieties is that I'm a bad kisser. This has been espsecially bothering me in the last couple of months, despite the fact that I've been kissing Chris for the last eleven years and he still decided to marry me and everything. I have all sorts of phsyical fears and inhibitions that occasionally manifest themselves in different ways, and kissing has been my brain's latest craze. What I remembered while I laid there not kissing myself was something my Aunt Anne had recently told me.

"When you're on a spiritual journey," she said. "and you're on the right path, you'll find that all the differnet parts of your life connect together and you get answers in unexpected places."

So I raised the palm of my hand to my lips and gave it a kiss. Then I did the same with the other. And neither of my palms were repelled by their touch. I wasn't slobbery or anything like that. My kisses were small and delicate, and made a little snapping sound like when you blow bubbles out of chewing gum. Or when you pour milk in your Rice Crispies.

"Now when I was first told to do this in yoga class years ago," my instructor told us, "I thought it is weird. But it made me realize that I needed to be nicer to myself. We put our bodies through a lot and we rarely show them kindness. I'm not saying you should kiss your hands every day. I'm just suggesting that you take time to baby your body. Be kind to it."

I have not, in fact, kissed my hands since that class. But I haven't worried about the way I kiss either. Plus, whenever I say something awkward to someone in class and I feel like a wierd dork I think, "Gen...they kiss their hands." And suddenly we're on the same footing.

1 comment:

Thomas Peri said...

I ran into my old friend Seth from college the other day, and he was with a couple other people I hadn't met before. The wires got crossed in my brain, and I said to Seth, "It's good to meet you!"