My brother, Tim’s birthday. I decide to check the yoga schedule and notice Cia has a sub named Sabrina. I arrive and the sub greets me. I notice that I am the first one here as she asks if I have been to one of her classes before but I tell her 'no' this my first time. Her hair full of ringlets as I take her in with my eyes when we talk and I notice it flowing down her back and that her nature sturdy. I plop my mat down in the back and wait for more to show up as I ready myself for the class. A tall awkward man who appears to not know if he should be there or not comes next. He seems surprised by Sabrina’s presence and the lack thereof of Cia’s. I half listen as he gives his name. OMG is this the Author of the book on mindful eating whom I met so long ago??
More than a decade earlier I read a book on eating with mindfulness written by Charles Eisenstein. The book was a catchment of how to eat conscientiously, with intent and focus. The book explaining if you eat with mindfulness then automatically you will not overeat or eat foods that are bad for you. At the time my family was hurried and often ate on the run. I had noticed that we were eating foods that weren’t good for us and it had impact on me. I was enthralled with all things yoga and a book to help us eat better was much needed. It had been a time when I wanted to change patterns and I was hoping this author could help with this. I liked the book so much that I convinced the founder of the studio to allow him to come and do a workshop for us. I thought the messages from the book would be perfect for my family and hopefully resonate with others at the studio.
We had gathered in a circle back then my husband, child (who was bribed to attend with a promise of a video game) and I along with the other yogis who had signed up as we nibbled on bite size pieces of food that we smelled, gazed at and listened to as it melted softly in our mouths. (My husband recalls us eating a piece of chocolate but my memory reflects a dark thick chunk of pumperknickel bread.) Charles seemed alittle extreme and well, maybe a tad eccentric with stories of how he raised his kids and how he lived, at least that is how it seemed to me at the time.
The essence of him and his talk was something that played out in my family for years to come as we would often ask each other with humor, ‘are you enjoying your food’ if we noticed that the other wasn't. His name became a household name. We remembered his words that if we ate with awareness and mindfully we'd find balance with our food and hopefully it would roll over into other things in our life. It seemed to work in part, and our home habits did improved over the years.
As I was reminiscing about the early years of yoga and this Author's book at the start of class my mind was taken out of my reverie by Charles explaining to the teacher, Sabrina that he is having mouth trouble, trouble with his teeth and that he didn’t know if he would be able to do much in class. She seems flustered as she tells him that we weren't going to do anything that involved the mouth and jaw so he should be ok.
I speak that I once knew an Author with the same name as he, could it be that he wrote a book on mindful eating? He got really animated at this point, uncharacteristically so and quickly says, “Yes, I wrote that!” I tell him the impact the book had on my family. That my son especially had benefited from it. “It helped my family tremendously.” “Do you remember me inviting you to the Founder’s studio so many years ago and the talk that you gave?” I ask. “Yes, wow (he stares at me briefly) that was a long time ago.” We reminisce privately on how long ago it was indeed. “Your son?” I asked. "He was young back then." He glances down, then looks up and tells me that his sons have long since grown. But he has started over again and has young children now. "You were married?" I recall. Yes, but is now divorced and remarried.
I am so excited about this connection of seeing him in class today but he seems less so. Reserved and weary. I get the sense that he has changed with time but also remains very much the same as I too am. We grew into the sameness of who we are but somehow are different too. My memory of his physical presence is all wrong when I see him, and I start to wonder if I ever remember his talk with any accuracy?
Others filter in and we start class. It is how I predict her class to be, hard and traditional with 'breath of fire' breathed into every pose. I like it but will welcome the regular teacher back when she returns. Familiarity is comforting. At the end of class I turned to Charles and ask if he is living in Asheville. He points out the window to the direction that he lives in and that too is the direction of where I live. We are neighbors living footsteps from each other. Both walking distance from the studio. He has moved to Asheville the year before.
“Do you like it here?” I asked. He pauses and says it has been a hard year. I listen but he hesitates. I change topics slightly. “What brought you here?” “It is a long story,” he added. Another pause. Unlike how I usually am, nosy and curious this time I backed off and don't pursue it. I am not sure why but I say, instead, “Another time I would like to hear. “ “Yes, another time…his words drift off.
It is hard to say why his year hasn't been easy. Hard years come and go and the best lessons to get through them are the lessons (I struggle with) but remember from his talk. I hope he can find solace here.
Be present with what is. Experience food and life with the senses and relish in it, don't hurry, worry or attach to it. 'Eat' it up, but let it go when it is gone. This is what he taught me and this is what carries me through the ups and downs of life.
We leave the studio at different times and go our separate ways so I never do find out exactly where he lives and wonder if I will see him again. I tell my husband when we talk a bit later in the day, “Guess who I saw at yoga today?” He thinks maybe Andie McDowell because she is rumored to live nearby. I tell him “no bigger!” “Bigger than Andie McDowell!?” “Well yes, no. Charles Eisenstein. “ “Wow.” “Crazy.” I text my son who is now a man. “Guess what food guru I saw at yoga? He replies Andrew Zimmern (from one of his favorite food shows, Bizzare Foods). “No, Charles!” “OMG” he writes back. “It’s a small world.” Yes, as his words reflect back…It really is a small world….