Dirty Thirty(-three)

Today is my birthday, a day that we imbue with more power than it has perhaps earned. It’s just another day, but it also provides an opportunity to reflect on progress, shed bad habits, or be grateful to have seen another one.

This birthday, I got to FaceTime with my mom while opening a present she sent to me. My siblings and step-dad sent sweet cards and messages. I got to talk with my grandmother – a woman who just celebrated her own 94th birthday a few days ago. Church bells sounded faintly in the distance as I stepped outside for lunch, and I knew my angel relatives were with me.

The last year, like every other year, has had its share of deep sadness and thrilling hope; remembering forgotten passions and discovering new desires. Instead of going out this evening, I knew I wanted an night of solo reflection. I went to a nearby yoga studio (a place I’d never been) for a Yoga Nidra session (a practice I’d never tried). There were only two of us students in the room. The ceiling was decorated with strings of flags, and plants stretched themselves towards the sun from their windowsill perch. A deep purple geode claimed a corner, and intricate statues of goddesses seemed to bless us where we sat.

Once we were each laying comfortably on our mat, tucked under a blanket and a lavender-scented eye pillow, the teacher helped us settle into our bodies and relax. She asked us to focus on the center of our chests and greet our heart like an old friend.

“Ask your heart what it needs,” she told us. This “waiting to hear your inner voice” concept usually scares me. I hear about people following their intuition or meditating and praying to receive an answer, and it makes my palms sweaty. I’m afraid that if I stop and listen, I’ll only hear silence.

But tonight, I asked my heart what it needed from me. The first couple of answers clearly came from my A-student brain, which wanted to make sure there was a voice to fill the silence, but the words didn’t feel right. I let them drift away and kept listening. After a few minutes, I heard a voice that sounded like me, just a little calmer and wiser.

“Trust,” the voice said. “I need your trust.”

By the end of the guided meditation, my body was merely a focal point of warm, vibrating energy. I felt peaceful and grateful and out of my head, which is rare. We woke up slowly and sat up gently, blinking as we looked at each other – the only three people in the building.

I’m not sure what blessings and challenges the year ahead will hold, but I will try to remember my intention from class: I invite trust. I trust my heart to be strong enough and to speak to me with honesty and clarity. I trust myself to learn to listen.

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