So, I’ve established that I’m really good at corpse pose. But I’m really bad at walking meditation.

This morning, for instance, Jessica and I took a walk through the village, single file. Jessica was showing me how she does her walking meditation so I could do my own. The idea is to move through space without becoming distracted or desirous. To focus on the horizon, living in each footstep. You step only for this one step, not to reach any goal.

White people all over the village are practicing their walking meditation. It’s sort of like Dawn of the Yogic Dead around here. Except that, if we were zombies, we’d be looking for human flesh to eat. But since we’re not, we’re just looking to—um. Shit, I guess we’re just looking to meditate while we walk? I don’t know, I’m new here. And like I said, I’m really bad at this.

At first, walking through the rice paddies, I thought: no problem. I’ll just keep my eyes focused ahead, and let this green sea flow along in my peripheral vision.

But soon we headed back into the village, and I began to wonder how anybody would ever want to transcend such a place. The day was clear and bright. Hot, but not hellishly so. Creamy-white frangipani blossoms literally filled the air; they drifted on soft breezes and landed in the path in front of us as if they’d been strewn there by invisible flower girls. The air was full of their sweet perfume. I instantly started to think about how I wanted my entire apartment to smell like that.  And I wondered if it came in oil form, and if so, if I could buy some to take home for all my girlfriends.

Or soaps! People love soaps!

A few paces ahead, Jessica lifted and dropped her shoulders and let out a long melodious sigh. I refocused my gaze and went back to living in my footsteps. That is, until we passed Balinese women dressed in sarongs of yellow and white, their lacy tops stretched over camisoles or bras and tied at the waist with thick silk sashes. On their heads they balanced large square offering boxes made from palm fronds, their lids stacked high with fruit and flowers. The scent of cooked chicken wafted from the boxes, and it occurred to me that all I really wanted in life was some chicken. Oh, chicken! Oh, delicious meat!

We slowed at the bottom of a hill and looked down into a deep ravine. Its dimples and paths were clogged with garbage, some of it on fire. The frangipani and chicken were smothered by the pungent reek of burning garbage and decomposing leaves. I could hear a river down there somewhere, but I couldn’t make it out through all the trash. The path inclined in front of us, deep grooves on either side where mopeds churn up the dirt countless times a day.

Everywhere I looked, life was being lived differently than at home. I couldn’t help but feel excited by so much possibility. I drank it in, I wanted to become one with it, I wanted to own every second of it, every piece of it.

The wet sheen of the banana leaves, the sweetish smell of jungle rot, the reek of animal dung, the blossoms on the road, the women who passed me, smelling of jasmine oil and incense and a god’s supper.

Who in her right mind would want to transcend any of this?

 

Excerpted from Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment Copyright @ 2011 by Suzanne Morrison. Reprinted by Permission of Three Rivers Press, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

 

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A writer and solo performer currently living in Seattle, SUZANNE MORRISON started Yoga Bitch as a long-running one-woman show of the same title, which played in New York, London, across the country and around the world. Her memoir, Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment (Three Rivers Press) will be published in Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and Israel, and has been named a must-read by the Los Angeles Times and New York Magazine. A 2009 and 2010 recipient of 4Culture and Artist Trust grants for solo performance, Suzanne is developing a new show, Optimism, about her adolescent fascination with Ted Bundy, who was a friend of her parents, and she is at work on a new memoir, Your Own Personal Alcatraz, about coming of age on an island in the middle of Lake Washington and the perils of first love. You can find Suzanne at the Huffington Post, where she blogs about the reading life, and at her own blog, suzannemorrison.blogspot.com, where she writes about absolutely everything she’s reading, writing, and rehearsing.

3 responses to “Excerpt from Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to Enlightenment

  1. Suzanne, my friend Veronica D’Orazio was just talking to me about your book–what a cool coincidence to see it right here on TNB!

  2. THE BEST PARTY
    P.O. Box 337
    New York, NY 10163
    January 20, 2012

    Mr. Brian Williams
    NBC TELEVISION
    30 Rockefeller Plaza
    New York, NY 10112

    Dear Mr. Williams,
    I have always enjoyed your rise to fame. You remind me so much of Peter Jennings. But not Walter Cronkite. He was a grouch, according to unpublished sources. Anyhow, my name is Mrs. Yetta Bronstein. I’ll be running for President of the United States of America in 2012, as an independent candidate, under a banner as THE BEST PARTY.
    And why not? I’m over 35 years old, born in the USA and I don’t need a Green Card. Also I have a common sense platform. When you introduced Mr. Stephan Colbert for the same high office on your NBC news program Friday evening January 13, 2012, between 6:30 and 7:00, I got so excited I forgot to watch “Jeopardy” that follows you on another network.
    My purpose in writing, Mr. Williams, is to request equal time, as you gave Mr. Colbert, for my announcement. This is a Fair Practice rule under the FCC regulations, which you might not be aware of. It is still on their books, according to the scandalous Watergate leading prosecutor lawyer, Mr. Richard Ben-Veniste.
    Accordingly, Mr. Williams, until I receive my snow boots from L.L. Bean and begin testing the waters in New Hampshire, here are a few of my planks. Please choose from this list and announce them on your nightly news ASAP:
    1. Take Congress off salary and put them on a straight commission basis.
    2. Abolish the Income Tax and substitute a Fat Tax. Entire family must weigh in on or before April 15th and pay $5 a pound for the aggregate.
    3. Eliminate the National Debt by releasing 2.2 million prisoners in jail. Then give each one 7 days to be adopted by a family, or be put to sleep.
    4. Place a Suggestion Box on the White House fence.
    5. Put mental detectors, along with the metal detector, in all Gov. Buildings.
    6. Auction off American Ambassadorships to the highest bidders.
    7. Halt all space exploration to save billions. Just wait until they visit us.
    8. Remember my slogan: “Vote for Yetta and watch things get betta.”
    Finally, Mr. Williams, let me thank you for upholding the integrity of your news position and that of NBC-TV. Maybe you will be invited to host “Saturday Night Live” sometime in the near future.
    If you wish to contact me: (212) 714-8298 Or email: [email protected]

    Sincerely,

    Mrs. Yetta Bronstein
    THE BEST PARTY

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