As she arranged the blanket across her legs, she looked at me and asked "Are you in recovery?" I smiled at her and said "I've struggled with substance abuse of all kinds. And I've worked through therapy and meditation, but no, I am not in formal recovery." She surveyed the other women and said "Yep, you're one of us. A weirdo like us."
We moved into the breath, an essential give and take with the outside world, into the experience of lying on a yoga mat in a residential recovery center as the smell of greens cooking in the kitchen mingled with the almond oil balm that I make and spray into their palms at the start of class. The air that we draw into us from outside, the feeling of the air that moves through us and into us, always fresh, always new. We can feel this journey again and again if we practice, moving into more and more subtle awareness of our living, of the hairs in our nostrils moving as the air passes in and out, of the expanding ribs, the feeling in the throat, the beat of the heart.
In this moment we are together and alive and sacred. For now, we can finally be exactly who we are, with our wounds and our despair, the profound need to be swaddled and rocked, struggling to be soothed. Let us be different or better at some other time. For now, we will claim our own life. We are beautiful and perfect and raw. This is our labor.