Why I Practice

IMG_0639 My father, Ryz Obuchowicz passed away on Friday evening after a long, draining battle with acute myeloid leukemia. I can’t write much about the specifics because it’s far too fresh for me to dive in and rise back to the surface with coherent insight. Hopefully with time I can give his passing the words it needs. For now I will say that he had made his peace with death and was surrounded by the people he loved most.

What I can write about now is the importance of practicing self care, even when we don’t always see the point. As my father’s illness progressed this fall and I launched this new business, I felt stretched to my limits. Setting boundaries has always been hard for me, but this period of time taught me to say “no” from a place of necessity. It felt good each time I cut something away so I could focus more intently on my family and my clients.

In early October, when one of my teachers urged me to participate in a group seasonal cleanse, my instinct was to say no. In fact, I did say “no.” Then my teacher asked me reconsider because she thought it would be good for me and help my students as I taught from my own experience. I try to listen to my teachers because some times they see things I don’t. Begrudgingly, I signed up and scheduled my cleanse for last week.

It was the most relaxed cleanse ever--root vegetable soup, warm lemon water, longer meditations and tons of sleep. I was in bed before 9:30pm for five nights straight. I’ve never done that before. All the sleep, stillness and good food made me feel like super woman. My head was clear and my heart was open. I knew what was important. During that week my dad was improving after a scary dip and I was resting in the small chance that maybe he could pull through this.

When his status changed, it changed really fast. By Wednesday, most of the hope was gone. Thursday I saw I had to prepare for his passing and then Friday it happened. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever gone through yet I felt buoyed by presence. There was a deep energy coming through that eased his transition and let me be present for my family.

Who knows why we practice? We show up on the mat and do our poses with a deep resonant breath. We wake before sunrise and sit in stillness, day upon day. We choose to make our own light dinner instead of meeting friends for pizza. Why do we do it?

My thought right now is that we practice so we can be available to life when life needs us the most. We breath in uncomfortable yoga poses so we can breath through uncomfortable moments with the people we love. We sit in the shaky space of stillness so we can handle the unplanned events life will continue to toss into our laps. We practice so we can be compassionate human beings, the kind we admire.

People ask me what they can do right now and I think my answer is to do your practice. Show up, even when you can’t quite tell why, and know you are building your reserves. I hope you don’t have to use those reserves to let go of someone you love for a good long time, but the truth is that you probably will some day. It will be hard in inexplicable ways but those reserves will give you peace. It’s a peace I’m hanging out in right now, a place that feels so connected to my dad. It feels like grace and it feels like his great big spirit and it feels like it will hold me as I move forward into healing.