the splits


yup, today, in yoga class, the teacher gave us advance notice...we are preparing the body to do the splits. i laughed inside. others groaned audibly. i know i can no longer do splits. i rarely could when i was a younger, middle-aged, yogini. such are the fading capacities of the body. i'm grateful i could laugh.

for elders becoming more conscious, there is no longer the expectation that we can, or should, go beyond what we are actually capable of; to go beyond what is the truth of our being in this moment. there is no longer the need to prove anything, either to ourselves or to anyone else. it is a mark of psychological maturity that we can be ourselves, no longer at the mercy of others. it is a mark of spiritual maturity that we can honour our inner authority.

the realisation that we have no control over life's unfolding, brings, alongside it, the awareness that we can be the subject of our lives. we can be the one who acts, rather than the object, the one who is acted upon.

i can, and will, choose to refrain from the splits, literally and metaphorically. the splits that the legs could once do no longer interest me. what holds my attention is the inner 'splits', the challenges to my heart, my mind, my consciousness. these are the arenas that excite me and propel me to deeper exploration...integrity, forgiveness, honesty, authenticity, lessening attachment, love, caring, openness, surrender, gratitude.

these are the aspects of maturity that stimulate the opening of spiritual muscles, that allow the feeling of the life-force traveling through the sinews of our being. this sense of aliveness as elderhood unfolds is an internal trajectory. this pathway is the road to holding each moment, each breath, each heartbeat as if it were the splits.

in yoga parlance, the splits are called hanumanasana. the name derives from the monkey god who jumped over the sea in order to perform heroic acts of courage and devotion. it is this jump that is replicated in the pose, in the splits.

how can we be hanuman? what heroic acts can we perform each day...acts of love, acts of courage, acts of truth? what are we devoted to? what acts of commitment grow from inside...acts of constancy, acts of love, acts of fierce dedication?

these are the acts, the splits, of the elder.