Have I ever told you the story of how I started my morning meditation practice?
Back when I lived in Adams Morgan, right next to the dog park there, my dog Lukah and I would go down every morning where he would play with all of his puppy friends and I’d socialize with my dog park crew.
If ever we didn’t make it down one morning, well, I’d surely hear about it the next day.
“Where was Lukah?” my dog park friends would demand to know.
They would then offer to take him out if ever I wasn’t able to make it to regular morning meet up. I cherished the community.
But we couldn’t stay. We were chased out by ghosts. You see, the place we lived in was haunted. From the bones of those buried and since moved from the historic African American cemetery on which the property was built.
To spells cast by the fortune tellers who lived and operated their palmistry business out of the apartment in which we lived back in the 70s.
To the walking dead, an abusive ex-husband, haunting at our door. So we moved to Shaw where I could be closer to the acupuncture clinic where I practiced at the time.
Lukah passed away very suddenly three months later. From the minute I noticed something was wrong, to when he passed, it was 15 minutes. I still don’t know what took him. He was such a rockstar. He went out the way most people want to. Quickly in the arms of the person who loved him the most.
When I woke up the morning after, and for weeks later… I didn’t know what to do.
He was my morning practice. My devotional practice. The one true constant, and source of unconditional love, in my life in DC. Every morning for 7 years I got up, no matter what was going on in my life and no matter how uncertain life could be, I got up for him.
“Well, what the fuck do I do now?!” I thought to myself…
So I tried to meditate. To show up and hold space for and with myself. To be still.
And it was terrifying.
I committed to try 10 full breaths every morning. In the first couple of days, by the time I got my third breath, it was nothing short of a full blown panic attack. Staring into what felt like the vast emptiness of the human experience.
I had been teaching yoga for almost six years at this point but never truly meditated.
And while it was terrifying I continued to show up. Consistently. Imperfectly. Every day. Just 10 full breaths. I programmed rhythm.
Eventually I was able to sit still for those 10 breaths. About a minute and half. And eventually those 10 breaths became five minutes. And 10 minutes. And 45 minutes. And sometimes, even still, it’s simply those 10 full breaths before I have to bounce out the door.
It’s the practice of cultivating energy, as one yoga teacher friend explained, instead of expending it. Everything in our lives calls us outside of ourselves, to give at our own expense. While I can’t control what happens when I step out of the door in the morning, I can certainly create space for myself and program rhythm in how my day starts and ends.
And I can choose to rechannel all that energy, all that care I devoted to Lukah, towards myself. I’ve intentionally kept that space open. So fast forward to present… two Sundays ago I was lucky enough to partner with Eric Schwarz, DC’s Best Yoga Teacher to lead our first Live Deliciously Day Retreat.
And it was nothing short of magical. An immersion in programming healthy rhythm. Silent hike, meditation on islands in the stream, reflection on self care rhythm, and an incredible yoga class and healthy picnic under open sky and trees.
Eric brought his dog Lucas. I walked participants through trails Lukah and I would venture to every weekend.
And the river washed over.