Eden M. Kennedy

mission accomplished, pal

Eden M. Kennedy is the co-author (with Alice Bradley) of the book Let's Panic About Babies! (St. Martin's Press, 2011).

A former college-radio DJ, Mrs. Kennedy has driven cross-country six times in a 1973 Volkswagen Bug and enjoys standing on her head.

Currently she works at a nonprofit and is just about finished writing her first novel.

I had a teacher once who advised us to take a poem of someone else's that we liked and copy it out longhand, word for word. He said it would slow down our reading and make us think about the poem differently. I liked that, and started copying out poems in a special notebook. One day I showed the notebook to a boyfriend and he shut me down by saying "Why, so you can pretend you wrote them all?"

There's a woman named Robyn who practices yoga at the same place I do who just went through her first pregnancy. She did variations on third-series ashtanga until her belly was as big as a sack of groceries and she had modified her practice down to, like, two poses. One of which was handstand. She'd just float right up there and serenely stand on her wide hands for minutes at a time. I guess it felt good. It certainly kept her arms strong, and the rest of us amazed.

The other day I was about three-quarters of the way through my yoga practice when it came to the point in the middle of backbends where you do handstand and balance by yourself for twelve breaths. I'm more of a flinger than a floater, so my teacher catches my hips, then he stands there and counts slowly to twelve while subtly, telepathically adjusting my posture and watching for signs of collapse.

I didn't collapse; though I've been sick on and off for two months and my attendance at practice has been abominable, I still managed to stand there on my hands by myself for twelve breaths and then float my feet down to my mat like two delicate, giant flakes of snow. And my teacher said, That was good. And I told him, I was imagining Robyn while I did that. And my teacher said, That's a Vedanta technique called Sampad. It means "same foot." Where you imagine your foot standing in the foot of the Vishvedevas*. Or in your case, your hands in the hands of Robyn.

And it's twenty years too late to tell the snarky ex-boyfriend**, but I guess that's another reason to copy someone's poem, so you can gain understanding from standing within a stonger person's words. For the time being.

*"The mind is certainly infinite, and the Vishvedevas (high beings) are infinite. Through this meditation one wins an infinite world." From the Brahma Sutra Bhasya of Shankaracharya. Footnote: "Vishvedevas occupy the mind for the time being."

**Why, yes, I do seem to hold grudges.