20 Mar 2011

First dark days after the quake

Woke up the next morning, still no electricity, a deceptively quiet day.  Saw the first images of destruction in the news paper.  Not until 17:30 when the power comes back and I get on the computer do I start to realise the full extent of this disaster.

Next the worry of a possible nuclear meltdown 100kms from me becomes eminant.  Panic.  Lack of information.  Avidya, ignorance, the master affliction. I know it is meant in a different sense in the yoga sutra, but I have never felt such fear at what I don't fully understand.  Hours and hours scouring the web trying to get a handle on the situation.  Clear, accurate information is hard to come by in the first few days. 

More news of utter destruction, whole communities gone, it's like a war zone.  Gasoline has run out here, shops are emptying.  The worry of what will happen is unbearable.  Lots of talking to friends, so much -s-upport in this difficult time.

A midnight call from a friend, saying that one of the nuclear power plant workers is at his house. Scared.  News of far spread radiation, conspiracy, cover ups and a deserted power plant. 

This is the night I panic. 

I ask my husband would he come away with me.  No, is the definite answer.  Could I leave, No.  I surprise myself.  No way could I leave and ever like or respect myself again.  To stay with the people who support me in good times, to leave them. No never. 

Still filled with fear,  evacuees from near the plant start arriving in Yamagata, first stop radiation checks, all clear.  Nerves fill me, I can't eat, lost 4 kilos.  Minimal yoga practice has kept me from tipping over.

It's the unknown, the worry, the fear.  Yet the Japanese people around me are wonderful, calm, friendly, helpful, ready with a smile.  This is a very transformational time to be here, to be with the peoople in their darkest hour. I am inspired by their nobleness in such dire times. 

16 Mar 2011

A week in Yamagata


Practised primary series, oh it was lovely, had trouble focussing but shoulder felt better and was thinking I may start back on second series the next morning.

It's March, I've often travelled to India at this time of year, work is quiet, but this year for a number of reasons I decided to stay at home, relax, focus on yoga practice and generally go a little slower.

Sorry to repeat much of what I'm sure everyone is emotionally and nervously tired of watching, but I feel like writing a bit.  You don't have to read.

As we all know a magnitude 9 earthquake hit the coast of Sendai, just an hour away from here.  The fact I am writing this from home, with electricity, is because I am behind the mountains.  It was still big enough though.

First you hear the windows rattle, than feel the floor shake, jars chinking together. 

Is it going to stop...soon....what should I do....it continues, growing in strenght, stay put or go out.  Heart racing, body shaking from fear, from adrenaline.

Got out, run back in turn off the heater.  Run out.   The tarmac is almost rippling, watch the parked cars bounce and shake. Breathe, breathe very deeply, calm down, breathe, looking up seeing if power cables or concrete poles are about to fall on me.  Head to the school ground, open space, it continues, but even this space isn't comforting when the earth beneath continues to shake.  It was like snowboarding without going anywhere.  Breathe calm down, calm.

I'm in socks of course, don't have the presence of mind for shoes.  It's the joke in the neighbourhood, that English woman runs out in her socks.  Don't even feel the cold my heart is racing so fast.

Ground stops shaking. One neighbour in our group, all neighbourhoods are organised into a system of sub groups in a big group, the appointment for leader changes every year.  He checks on the oler people who live alone.  Everyone accounted for.   I see images on one of the neighbour's mobile phones of a river of cars being swept away by a river, a tidal wave.... hear a noise above, see what look like swans, cranes, white birds with long necks in v formation crying out and flying west, then I go back in the house.

No electricity.  Get out candles and lighters while it's light.  More shuddering.  Earth is still moving.  Fill up everything I can find with water, perhaps the pipes have burst.  No t.v. no net no information.  Not sure of the full extent.

Can't settle, go for a bike ride, it's snowing heavily.  All the traffic lights are out, police are directing at major crossroads, cars are back up.  Now I really appreciate all those police boxs scattered all over the city, they were in there straight away doing what they have a plan for.

All the services have a plan, these were put into action immediately, everyone knowing their place, their role, what procedure is required.  Infact 51 brave police officers lost their lives trying to get people out of the tsunami's reach.  They were the last.  They did their job.  So many hereos.

Back home, thankful for many things, think of all the police, electric workers, doctors, army, rescue all those people having one hell of a day.

A reminder of how interdependent we all are, all working for all.  Especially those in the public service.  Public service now has a much great depth to the word.

Dark night, no lights, few cars, snow falls silently, darkly.  It's peaceful.  A friend living further inland near the mountains said the tsunami came close.  Reports of 10m waves and burning oil.  BBC here in Yamamgata.

Thankfully our mobile phones mail worked, the mobile phone providers have emergency service, I could contact my friends in Tokyo and they could post on face book so assure family and friends that we were ok.  I realised later I could have done it, but with low battery, small texts were all I wanted to risk.  Need to save battery.

I feel for those huddled in schools, stranded on boats. Lucy, with baby, north of Sendai, no water, no electricity.  No life line, just a mobile phone with limited battery.

Drink wine, sew, listining to emergency radio station intensely for information. 

At night of aftershocks and sirens.

Tofu shop with one candle, and lovely ladies huddled around a stove at dusk.

10 Mar 2011


Been reading a lot recently, I seem to be thirsty, craving words and information, flipping between novels, yoga books, anatomy, blogs, webpages, and podcasts.  Losing track where exactly it was I saw things.  At the time it seems obvious, confident that I can remember and come back to read slower and absorb more.  To my shame I spent HOURS and hours the other day trying to find and recall a certain piece of information. I remember thinking I must read that more closely when I have more time, and then….arghh  where was it?  Obsession kicks in, try to retrace my steps, going to regular haunts and branching off and off searching into cyberspace.  Finally I had to let go, and rely on memory.  This little itty bit of information stuck, but my memory of it is incomplete, fuzzy. There’s a nagging desire to see this again, search, give up, more hours eaten up on the net, must let go, and on and on the torture of lost information goes.  Searching the vastness that is the blogsphere is futile.

What is it I’m looking for?  Something about the energy, or vibrations of words, every word we send out into the universe has a vibration and continues to vibrate through space, and have karmic implications.  Once said forever in cosmic effect.  This is really fuzzy, and I really really want to see it again.  Sound familiar anyone?  Any links?  Whether it be the energy in the words or the samskaras produced I need to be much more aware of what comes out of my mouth, especially whilst driving.  I need, as Dharma Mittra said to control what goes in and out of my mouth on many levels.  Going into my mouth control is on the up, and coming out is better than before.  So this is my practice.  After the two hours of morning asana, then comes the hard work throughout the day of watching what I say, especially when in my car….

As for asana practice, sticking with primary a while longer, it feels so good not to struggle to just enjoy the flow and try to make it more of a meditative practice.  Back to basics.  Working on the feet parallel but heels lifting come ups from back bending, thanks to Grimmley’s video inspiration.  Feels much more open on my lower back, and my legs feel stronger, actually it’s a world away from the feet splayed version, exploration shall continue on my quest for parallel feeted drop backs and come ups.

3 Mar 2011

Woman at Point Zero

About an Egyptian woman called Firdaus's, her life story from country to city, how she becomes a prostitute, kills her pimp.  Very powerful book, based on a true story.  Highlighting difficulties women all over the world still face. The last lines spoken by Firdaus the day before execution, after refusing to appeal, refusing any help, really touched me. Struck me as very yogic, through these extreme experiences and pain she found the truth.

"I have triumphed over both life and death because I no longer desire to live,nor do I any longer fear to die.

I want nothing, I hope for nothing, I fear nothing

Therefore I am free.

For during life it is our wants, our hopes, our fears that enslave us.

The freedom I enjoy fills them with anger."

1 Mar 2011

Early awakening

Anyone that knows me, knows I'm a sleeper.  Never have problems getting to sleep, going back to sleep or sleeping for a long time.  So I was shocked when I woke up at 3.30am wide awake! No way was I gonna get back to sleep.  So I did what all self respecting British yogi's would do, and had a cup of tea and then had a 4am practice.  It was a first, even in India my earliest practices were 5am.  It was great actually, the world and my mind was quiet.  Not at all stiff after so little sleep. Finished by 6am.  Did laundry, bathed, tidied, breakfasted and still only 8am!  Wow talk about a leisurely morning.  Have no idea why I woke, it has never happened before and I slept right through till 6am this morning when my alarm woke me with t a jolt.  Must try to do early mornings more, seriously felt good the whole day.  I think I like waking up in the dark ; )  How do you all manage the early morning waking thing?