Looking for Coyotes

"It is strange to feel change coming. It's easy to ignore. An underlying restlessness seems to accompany it like birds flocking before a storm. We go about our business with the usual alacrity, while in the pit of our stomach there is a sense of something tenuous.

These moments of peripheral perceptions are short, sharp flashes of insight we tend to discount like seeing the movement of an animal from the corner of our eye. We turn and there is nothing there. They are the strong and subtle impressions we allow to slip away.”                                                                            

- Terry Tempest Williams

One of my favorite places is a piece of  land that borders my family's home in northern Utah.  We call it "The Cedars". To many, it might look like a tangled mass of dead wood, scrubby bushes, and animal bones. To me, it's a haven of fragrant cedar trees and sagebrush; a sanctuary of desert stone against expansive sky.

This December as I hiked with my dad, he pointed out tracks: elk, rabbit, deer, and coyote.  I have heard the coyotes howling in The Cedars. I am always searching for them, hoping to catch a glimpse. My dad said coyotes are so attuned to movement that they walk when we do, stop when we do, and start moving again when we move. For the rest of the hike I paused every so often and waited, looking out the corners of my eyes for movement as I continued on.

I held my breath. I did not see a coyote.

Since then I have been thinking about how we scan the horizon of our lives, squinting as we look for evidence that we are on the right track: a growing bank account, perfect health, a promotion, or praise.  When we don’t find tangible proof, we believe that we must work harder. We push on- either charging forward or dragging our feet; whatever it takes to keep moving.

Maybe what we need is stillness.

Yoga contains movement and stillness.  In yoga we move our body in new ways, making shapes that give rise to new perspectives on what we are capable of; and then in the stillness, we have time to feel the effects of movement- the drum of our heart; the tickle of sweat; or the ecstasy of a deep, complete breath.  

We need movement to relate to the space within and around us. We need stillness to abide in that space.

In stillness, we witness how our own sensitive body holds the signals we were too busy to notice- a warmth in the belly; a fluttering in the chest; or an unexpected surge of energy that rises from the ground up.  Maybe these are the signs we have been looking for; that let us know something is there; waiting, like the coyotes, for us to stop in our tracks; to listen; to feel; and then to keep moving forward.

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