Last Thursday, I ventured north to Bellingham, Washington for my long anticipated class with Shiva Rea. I had never driven that far on my own before (about five hours), and the writer in me created all kinds of awful scenarios in which I did not return in one piece (the price for creativity!). I prepared for many eventualities, every last duck in a row, and left very dark (seriously Spring, no need to be so shy) and early. Thankfully, the drive went off without a hitch, a succession of NPR news stories, jazz, and rock and roll.
When I exited the highway hours later, my stiff legs itching for a stretch (yoga!), I had the first of many indications that none of my visions of doom would come to fruition. The sun started to peek through the clouds and a Bald Eagle swooped over my car. Talk about a warm welcome!
I arrived at the class after a picture perfect afternoon (more on that tomorrow), a warm, light-filled room, with equally warm and friendly strangers of all stripes. Then Shiva arrived and the magic began. With the beat of a drum, the raven spirit invocation (even more auspicious, considering my deep love of crows and ravens), curious, mischievous, dancing and spreading his wings, inviting us all to fly. This was followed by a truly amazing, heart liberating kirtan with Dave Stringer (like this). I sang at the top of my voice, every cell pulsing, full of joy, and ready for practice. The sadhana was kick-my-ass challenging with moments of silliness too (Shiva is funny!), everything I hoped for, infused with grooves from Dave and his cohort, and a final round of chanting to bring the magical practice to a close.
It’s pretty amazing when someone you’ve admired for a long time lives up to your expectations, live and in person, and a bit of a relief, too. I’ve been practicing with Shiva for the past six years, her work, and ours together, inspiring me more than I ever could have imagined. So when it came came time to thank her, for everything, that in the flesh, no going back, she’s standing right in front of me moment, rather than take my hand extended in gratitude, she embraced me, a hug between “old” friends. A perfect day, a perfect sadhana, made all the more sweet. Namaste.
p.s. I hope to get a picture with Shiva next time!