This post is by Kelsey Kopecky, our March Pilgrim in Residence. Kelsey will be sharing about spirituality and life on the road each Thursday in March. Read Kelsey’s other posts at A Sacred Journey here.
Day 3 of tour between load in and sound check I decided its time for yoga. I reach into our dimly lit trailer for the corner that usually squeezes my yoga mat, but instead of a handful of solid rubber, my hand touches the rough splintered and empty wall. I jump into the trailer for a better look. I see a wall of clear Rubbermaid containers with every shade of “Kopecky family band” T-Shirts peeking out, a set of jumper cables, tools galore, and an old drum rug covered in oil, but my yoga mat was no where to be found. My heart sinks.
I broke rule number one of tour life: Don’t leave your belongings behind.
I have a process that thus far (3 years and some change of solid touring) has been fool-proof. Everything has a place, so I can find it in the dark or in a hurry and to realize if a piece of my travel puzzle is missing.
Ok, so my mat is gone. I know right where I left it and that’s the worst part. It felt like my childhood blankie or stuffed animal was left behind to fend for itself. (I wish I could say I don’t still sleep with PJ Sparkles, my glow in the dark bear from age 4, but that’s a whole different conversation.) In that moment, a whole flood of thoughts filled my mind.
First I made up excuses to why I was a victim in this situation. That mat was expensive, I’ve had it for years, it was made to last a lifetime and I looked forward to practicing on it when I was old and grey. Replacing it would mean losing the sentimental value of years of sweat and exploration. I was bummed. Then I started to panic thinking why my road life would suffer without the ritual of rolling out my little sanctuary in the midst of a chaotic venue.
Then, at that very moment, one of my teacher’s voices came into my brain. In my ashtanga class last week before I left Nashville, Gillian StClaire had just said, “We Westerners are obsessed with staying on our mats during class. We like everything to be compartmentalized and our territory to be marked clearly. The truth is, needing a mat to do yoga is a made-up concept.”
So I stopped what I was doing, took a deep breath and realized I was making up drama that didn’t exist.
I broke rule number two rule of tour life: Always practice non attachment.
With such little control of all things while traveling, it’s essential to let go of my strict to-do list and my expectations of what the “perfect day” would look like. This calls me to let go of my hopes for the most well rounded diet, of getting a five mile run in, and of getting to have 45 minutes alone with my mat to pray, move, and reflect through yoga. It calls me to literally go with the flow and find joy in doing it.
My mantra while on tour has become “don’t be so hard on yourself.” This yoga principle of non attachment has been my teacher the last few years. Not being so hard on myself opens up so much space for loving kindness.
The sun was shining in central South Carolina, so I find a little nook in the courtyard and took off my shoes. The cold cement feels refreshing under my bare feet. I close my eyes, put my palms to my heart, and breathe. The ocean-like sound of my breath is soothing. In this moment I am reminded of my wholeness, the presence of God in and around me, and that everything in this moment is filled with peace.
I begin to do sun salutations and when I place my palms on the ground to jump back to chaturanga, I feel so alive. The rocky sidewalk under my hands makes me feel grounded and more connected to the earth. As I finish my practice, this act of moving prayer that I do daily has a certain freshness. Loosing my yoga mat turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
Maybe my yoga mat will find its way back to me. Maybe not. Either way, through stillness, clarity, and space, God showed me all things are possible in this moment. In that courtyard I was practicing yoga more than ever before.
In what ways do you make life harder on yourself by holding onto ideas that don’t actually serve you? How can you make more space for creativity by letting those ideas go?