A Promise to a Friend
I woke up last Sunday feeling a little out of sync with myself so I did what I know to do and headed to yoga. I had the pleasure of attending Patrick Montgomery’s Sunday morning class at Kindness S. Broadway (If you are looking for an asana class that marries spirit and alignment, do yourself a favor and go to this class. Seriously, it is magic).
The class was focussed anatomically on hip release. We worked a lot of the deep lunge, twist, and seated poses. While I resist the sentiment that “we hold our emotions in our hips” often expressed during a pigeon cool down (I am of the mind that our whole body holds emotion), I want to acknowledge that, anatomically speaking, there is a lot of sensitivity in the hips and classes like this one usually leave me feeling tender, soft, and open. At the end of our practice, I found myself in a familiar ooey-gooey puddle like state.
As I slowly began to pack up my props a woman I did not recognize approached me.
“Are you Brittany Kassel?”
“I’m sorry to bring this to you now, but I’ve been trying to get a hold of you...”
She then tenderly told me that her friend, a student who had often attended one of my classes, was lost to her battle with cancer the week prior. My internal state of puddle immediately began to pour out through my eyes. As I sat there crying and holding this woman’s hand I could feel my heart remembering and deeply imprinting my memories of this student. I thought about the incredible balance of strength and grace she expressed in her asana. I thought about her wide-open eyes and endless generosity in how she’d reflect with me after class. I thought about the vulnerability and steadiness she showed when she told me she was sick. I thought about practicing and chanting next to her in a weekend workshop with our shared teacher, Christina Sell. I thought about how her spirit and Heart seemed to shine brighter and brighter even as her body began to tire from this battle to survive.
Then I thought about the generosity of the woman whose hand I was holding and the weight she was carrying in barring the news. I thought about her heart and the friend she had lost. I thought about how I had just met this woman and at this moment I felt so much love from and for her. I thought about how available connection can be when we open our hearts.
This week, I light a candle and send prayers to my passed friend and all of the hearts she continues to live within. I am struck by the gift of a connected community, wherever we may find it. I am present to the fragile experience that is being alive and the precious gift of each breath.
Each time I think of you, dear friend, I promise to practice gratitude for this life by breathing more deeply. I promise to keep my heart open and trust that the piece of you imprinted there may reflect back out into this world.