This weekend I was in Los Angeles for a very quick trip to speak at the LA Times Festival of Books as well as an amazing synagogue/drug and alcohol rehab center called Beit T’Shuvah. I did three events in the span of twenty four hours. I’m not much of a traveler, and though I enjoy speaking I always get nervous before I speak. How was I going to manage to stay centered while on this whirlwind? Particularly while on this whirlwind to talk about Devotion, my book about…well, among other things, about learning how to stay centered?
I packed my yoga mat. I have packed my yoga mat in the past, and it has remained folded up in my suitcase, taking up space. This time, I unrolled my mat each morning and–awake at an ungodly early hour because of jet lag–did an hour long yoga practice that entirely changed my mood, my energy level, my ability to perform at my best. While I was practicing, the second morning, I found myself thinking about alignment. I was in Warrior Two pose, a pose which often gets me thinking about balance. I could hear various teachers’ voice in my head: don’t lean into the future, don’t fall back into the past. I meditated on the idea of just being right here, right now. Aligned. Balanced in the present.
I stopped thinking about what I was going to say that afternoon. Or about what might be happening back home. Or my schedule for the following week, or whether I had my boarding pass for the flight back to New York, or what on earth to wear to give a speech at a synagogue/drug rehab. Instead, I breathed. In, two, three four five. Out, two, three, four, five. I focused on where I was: my friend’s college-age son’s bedroom in the hills of Brentwood. Basketball trophies, high school yearbooks, trees outside the windows. I opened the French doors to the patio. Birds chirping. Sounds of rustling leaves. And suddenly–blissfully–I was in the present. Aligned with myself. Me, reintroduced to me. Ready to face the day.