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Lions Roar : May 2012
SHAMBHALA SUN MAY 2012 58 Never Too Old CYNDI LEE It wasn’t easy to find the right spot for my Tibetan OM calligra- phy tattoo. My first choice was the little space between my inner ankle and heel. But my tattoo artist put the kibosh on that idea, telling me up front that the skin in that area is tough, the tattoo wouldn’t heal well, and in the end I’d look like I had a jailhouse tattoo. He suggested going just above the ankle or higher up toward the more fleshy part of the outer calf. Or I could consider such popular sites such as the sacrum or back of the neck. These last suggestions received an immediate no. Feeling like I was mature enough at fifty-eight to finally get a permanent mark on my body, I wasn’t going for a secret tattoo only known to my lover or the other yoginis in my studio changing room. I wanted my tattoo to show! I put on my glasses to more carefully consider my options. This is the same body that I touch every day in the shower, that I stretch and twist every day on the yoga mat, and that I usu- ally dress in at least three different outfits before settling on the clothes for each day. But with my glasses on—whoa! My hands were looking way too much like my mom’s, and she’s eighty-five. My upper arms were out of the question, looking strong but squishy, too. And I wasn’t crazy about my calves, either. Using a finger to keep my glasses on as I bent over, I took a closer look at the top of my feet. Even they were getting wrinkled and dry. For a moment I thought maybe I’m just too old for this, my body is just too crinkly and blubbey and flakey and wrong. Then I got a grip. My feet have wrinkles because I’ve been articu- lating my phalanges and stretching my metatarsals all day for the last forty years. And it’s winter and my feet are dry, and so what? I took off my glasses and told Damian to put the OM on the top of my right arch. It cracked a little bit during the healing pro- cess, especially where my foot bends as I stand in a fierce War- rior One Pose. But when I come out of that pose, the top of my foot smoothes out again, clearly exposing the symbol of OM, the union of body, speech, and mind. How perfect that my tattoo flexes, stretches, and changes just like the rest of me. CYNDI LEE is founder of OM yoga in New York City and the author of Yoga Body, Buddha Mind. The Joyful Leap MELISSA MYOZEN BLACKER In the first episode of the television show Heroes, a young man has a recurring dream of leaping off a tall building and flying instead of falling. One day, he decides to jump for real. As he drops through the air like a stone, he is caught in the arms of his older brother, who, it turns out, actually can fly. When we stop clinging to the known and allow our dreams to become instruments of change, we learn to practice meditation in action at the deepest level. In these moments, we must risk taking a joyful leap with no guarantee of being caught as we fall. In Zen practice, we call it stepping off of the hundred-foot pole—living fully without clinging to anything, whether it’s an idea of enlightenment or something familiar and comforting from our old life that is holding us back. Students often speak to me of the great fear that arises even contemplating taking a leap into not-knowing from the cliff top of their old life. Recently I left a steady job as a meditation teacher at a medi- cal school to live as a resident teacher at a Zen temple. In the heady airspace of the new life, I find myself moving through states of joy, sorrow, fear, irritation, and exhilaration. What comforting arms rise to meet me as I fall? The surprise of the continually changing display of meeting each moment: a glimpse of the temple garden, the smell of the incense in the zendo, a smile from a sangha friend. HAPPY MEAL PROJECT: Artist Sally Davies left a Happy Meal on a kitchen shelf to disprove a friend’s contention that any unrefrigerated burger would get moldy within three days. This photo strip spans 631 days. Davies says her Happy Meal lost its aroma on the second day and was “hard as a rock and had an acrylic sheen” after six months.