I enjoy shoveling snow. It gets me outside during the winter, it’s aerobic and it’s practical. The shoveling keeps the long walk from my driveway to my front door clear and safe for my yoga students. And the activity is meditative. I love the quiet of the snow, the light of sun on snow, the clear sounds of the birds. I feel connected both to the nature surrounding me and to the movement, effort and strength of my own body. “The yoga of shoveling,” I say to myself.
Given the big snowstorm all day and much of the night on Thursday, I had tried to stay ahead of it by shoveling during the storm. On Friday morning, I went out to shovel for the fourth time in 24 hours! Although I had shoveled at dusk on Thursday, by morning there were several inches of heavy snow, with icy slush underneath. What’s more, the plow had pushed a large pile of snow onto the path. So piles of compacted snow had to be shoveled. Yogic or not, this morning’s shoveling would take lots of time. I began to think metaphorically about what I was doing.
Was I creating the path for my yoga students? Sounds pretty yogic, but this one doesn’t work. I don’t believe there is some single path with clear directions for being on it. If there are paths from where we are in our lives to some place where we can be more truly who we are, we discover or create these paths for ourselves—each of us. Our teachers do not, cannot do it for us. They may help us to notice the beauty along the way, however.
OK. Maybe I’m shoveling out, digging out, digging my way out of ignorance, distraction, confusion to something more grounded, clear and light. As I was playing with this metaphor, sunshine appeared at the end of the path, near the front door. It was very bright and beautiful, but it would be a while until I got there. Hmmm… This metaphor has promise.
Just as plausibly, however, I could be digging in, digging into the nuances of my moment-to-moment experience—noticing, learning, discovering what is there. Interestingly, the path itself isn’t visible until I have dug down all the way. Then the lovely brick is exposed. Not bad.
As it gets closer to the time students will arrive, I return to what I am really doing. I am shoveling the path so that my yoga students can arrive at my door safely.
Once in the studio, the digging is up to them.