Excerpt from Yoga Bitch: One Woman’s Quest to Conquer Skepticism, Cynicism, and Cigarettes on the Path to EnlightenmentBy Suzanne Morrison
November 05, 2011
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.