by Becca Tzigany
5 November 2021
I was getting dressed for yoga class. I put on a brown top, and then grabbed a brown sarong to lay out on my yoga mat. It was not my favorite sarong because it depicted two brown dolphins. Fundamentally, shouldn’t dolphins be turquoise like the ocean, and not brown like a chestnut?
As I walked to my yoga class, I breathed in the morning air to calm me. Dark as the loamy earth, solid as mahogany, honest as coffee . . . I was in a brown mood.
My mind churned. I wasn’t writing. I had returned to community activism, pulled in by what felt like emergencies . . . Human rights were being steam-rolled by totalitarian forces. People were sick with fear. A polarized society was at war with itself. Our biodiverse web was unraveling. I was responding through organizing with others to stand up against illegal overreach, to educate, to offer healthy alternatives. So much work, I wished I could split myself into four. How long could I keep up working 18-20 hours a day? So urgent this crisis felt, I didn’t even have time to do paid work. Would I burn out?
I sought stillness, and said so to the yoga teacher when she asked what we all needed from the class. So she got us going with pranayam (breathing) and shaking, and before long, into holding the asanas (poses). I relished the challenge. My muscles warmed as I took a firm stance in adho mukha svanasana (downward-facing dog). I felt the pyramid-shape of the temple of my body. Here I could worship the glory of being in a human body: strong arms, spreading shoulder blades, an opening pelvis that lifted my hips, and lengthening legs.
I breathed deeply and rhythmically, coming fully alive. There were longer spaces between my thoughts. Oh yeah . . . This is what it feels like to be in the present: the only time, in fact, when I could know what this life actually is. Feeling it all, including the “full catastrophe”, as Zorba the Greek said. Catastrophe sure sounded like an accurate description of these times.
In natarajasana (dancer pose), I wobbled on one foot, while the other leg extended behind me. “Whew, I am out of balance,” I thought, while hearing my internal criticisms jabbering about carrying a burden, not resting enough, what if I collapse,what if we fail, yada yada. As in the asana : so in my avant-garde life. To truly stand for justice, even on one foot, as the Lord of the Dance, I needed to embody strength to the point of elegance. I needed to transcend woe and worry while grounding in the Earth. Thus, I could personify that prayer to Shiva Nataraja.
As my body continued its stretching and holding different poses, I was reminded why activists need to keep some kind of physical spiritual practice. Otherwise, we could drown in our good intentions.
Finally coming down onto the mat, I knelt, like a humble dharmic servant, in balasana (child’s pose). I surrendered into quietude. My eyes floated open, and I found myself staring into the eye of a dolphin: the brown dolphin painted on my sarong. A dolphin! Closing my eyes, I remembered swimming with dolphins when we lived in Hawai’i, and how they always transported me into their vibration of love. I felt fortified in memory’s sea.
Then, gazing at me was the eye of a whale. The same humpback I had met in turquoise Caribbean waters. Back then, I was working alongside other environmental activists, and our full-time, non-paid job was securing legal protection for cetaceans. The humpback whale I met while on a research boat appeared several times in my dreams, where she communicated with me. Now here she was again.
“Thank you,” she said.
“Thanks for what?” I asked her.
“For everything you did to save us,” she said.
I argued with her. “But remember when you came to me in a vision? You told me not to be so upset about species extinction, that it was the natural course of things, and you and all your whale buddies were disappearing into another dimension. I cried tears into your salty waters because I did not want to let you go. Now it sounds like you’re saying the opposite.”
“But now you are not as attached as you were before,” she explained. “You caused yourself suffering, which worked at cross-purposes to the world you thought you were saving.” The whale clasped me with her gaze full of wisdom, compassion, and prodigious love, which sent ripples through all the oceans. I bathed in her playful smile. Her last words to me were, “Accept our gratitude. Thank you for standing for life.”
Overcome with emotion, I submitted further to child’s pose. As my third eye pressed against the ground, the weight of my head pushed it open even more. My splayed legs opened wider, my torso melting into the floor. I became a 2-D cut-out of a squat, the birthing posture. As I merged with the brown, brown Earth Mother, I opened to the constant flow of life. Flowing, flowing . . . so I could birth it into form.
A few weeks later, when I had better accepted my activist lifestyle ~ acknowledging it was the natural expression of the ideals of Venus and Her Lover ~ I was sitting at my altar in meditation. Tired after a long day of community organizing, I sat in soothing candlelight, breathing. Suddenly I became aware of pressure at my back. As I continued breathing, I recognized the pressure was made by energy flowing into my kidneys. I followed this flow back and back . . . to an infinite source. A never-ending supply of energy entered through my kidneys, suffused my body, and emanated from my heart in ripples. I perceived the waves and troughs of loving energy: compassion.
Now I understood why I could keep working day-after-day with only four hours of sleep. I was powered by compassion, and fed not by little Becca but by Infinite Source.
Eventually I got back around to seeing my acupuncturist. I have a life-long condition of kidney yin deficiency, and after my months of intense work, I figured my kidneys and adrenals were wrecked.
“Your kidneys are great,” he said.
Surprised, I said, “You mean: great for me? Like a 5 out of 10?” I know what is normal for me.
“No,” he said. “I mean your kidneys are at like an 8: the best I have seen them.”
I marveled at this affirmation ~ that infinite energy flowing into me from the back had healed my kidneys! How fortunate that I did not believe my inner voices fretting about my overworking or lack of sleep. Wielding compassion to stand for life, I had plugged into an endless power supply. Therefrom I can flow with the currents of evolution, like dolphins playing in the turquoise sea.