(Stop reading here if you hate run-ons, and if you think it’s possible for me to remember exactly what the Dalai Lama said and colorfully describe what I learned that day because it’s impossible for me to describe a feeling that you must find for yourself. Instead, you can read his books.)
I vividly remember that day I stood in line to possibly see His Holiness, the Dalai Lama speak. I was a eleven days older than the oldest teenager. I was skinny, flat-chested, had strong bird legs. I was dressed in burnt orange, probably also wearing spandex shorts. It was warm-ish outside. When is it not warm in Texas? The air was dry. Contrary to what you see on media these days, we were in a drought. I was a college student at The University of Texas at Austin. I had this joie de vivre about me. I never missed an opportunity to have an experience. There was a lot more people who probably realized the significance of this event more than I did, and a limited amount of tickets. So what did I, the overly-competitive lady my parents have created me into, do? Decades long of being told that I’m not good enough coupled with a stubborn sense of never backing down from a challenge, I brought a pillow and slept on the rocky concrete the day before to ensure I was going to see His Holiness. I wasn’t about to miss this potentially epic experience. (Everything in life has a potential for epic-ness. Trust me, I’m great at epic failures.) While waiting for tickets, I had to run to rowing practice at 5am and rush back in line where my friends were holding my spot. There was never a good enough reason to miss rowing practice. How was I going to approach my 6-foot, strong-enough-to-move-a-porta-potty-with-a-grown-man-inside coach, and say, “Coach C, Please don’t punish the team with burpees or wall-sits. It was THE Dalai Lama. His Holiness!” Fortunately, the other students in line didn’t seem to mind I left for a few hours. (Of course they would understand.)
I’m not sure I realized the significance of that memory until yesterday. Words cannot begin to describe the energy in the building prior to His Holiness arriving on stage. You couldn’t rush this experience – as if not one person had anywhere more important to be. There was this fervor. This beating of the heart and rhythmic breathing. This energy I hadn’t felt before. This energy is what I now know as prana. At the time, I had no idea how to take hold of this cosmic energy. It just danced around me in whirling unpatterned circles. I have been searching for over a decade after for this exact feeling. And finally, today, yesterday, and hopefully tomorrow – I feel it.
I lay in shavasana. My body is relaxed with this awareness that is clean of any sensory distraction. The world’s stresses have seem to melt into the far distance. What I know is that there are some secular ethics (compassion, forgiveness, tolerance, contentment, and self-discipline) that we each need. I am now looking at the light inside of me. We are meant to grow. We aren’t confined to a finite amount of compassion or empathy. Our brain’s plasticity can be trained it to enhance these qualities. As I leave shavasana and re-enter this world, this prana will enter my body through my breath, everyday.
We are fortunate accidents of holistic timing.