Preparing to write about Chris Vitiello’s new exhibit at The Carrack, “Loaded Objects,” I was reminded of the last exhibit he curated, “Tiny: Attention, Exploded” a show that focused on the miniscule, the miniature, and the very small. It engaged artists and audiences in reevaluating our scale relative to the Universe.
I find this practice to be most helpful. I am often able to use my yoga mat as a way to relativize my size in the cosmos. This diminishment and relativization can be particularly helpful in reducing and scaling stress. When I approach the mat, I envision it composing my entire world for the duration of my practice. I am able to enter a child-like space that allows me to see the mat as the limits of my universe much the way I once avoided cracks for fear of causing my mother spinal injuries.
The mat becomes my world. Yet I can see its scale. If I practice outside, I am able to look up at clouds, sky, leaves in the trees and recognize the relative smallness of my place in the world of objects.* This diminishment, this scaling allows me to look at my problems in the same way. These clouds, this sky, those trees, they are not worried. And how worried can I be amidst them? What am I but one tiny human on a planet filled with billions. My problems don’t involve starvation or access to clean water. What are they cosmically? Isn’t there an innate “This too shall Pass” card?
Of late, practicing on the back deck of my new, temporary digs, I see ants traveling across my mat. Again scale leaps to mind, what is this vast green carpet I have suddenly laid down across their world. And are the ants and I enemies? What is it that their designer** put in them that allows them to be flicked with my finger from the mat, flicked distances 100 and 200 times their body size, yet continue marching along as if nothing had happened? By scale, we would be thrown across hundreds of feet of terrain and could hardly anticipate arriving uninjured.
As this pondering devolves into breathing, my scaling is complete, I am safe in a world that is all mat. My inner voice, so hard to silence, grows quiet as I breathe into my body, filling my lungs with air. Hardly aware anymore that each breath must be comprised of millions and billions of molecules of air, that my lungs live in the one me, but are made up of a nearly uncountable number of individual cells.
Instead, I can no longer even maintain enough linearity to count breaths. I just breathe. My mat is a refuge.
For as a wise friend reminded me today, we should not expect that there will be no tempests. No, there will be storms.
It is important to have a place of refuge, retreat, relative safety, an oasis of calm. Physiological and psychological. For many of us, friends, family, loved ones, and home are those places.
And when we need a break from them? The mat. And breathe into the body. Nothing quiets the inner voice like the sound of the breath.
*If I practice inside, I either close my eyes or examine the minutia of the ceiling in the same manner.
**Darwin or otherwise.
“From the Editor’s Desk” is written by our Editor: Aaron Mandel