Thursday, March 3, 2011
Guest Post and Giveaway: Dani Shapiro, Author of Devotion: A Memoir
I’m thrilled to be able to offer you this guest post by Dani Shapiro, author of Devotion: A Memoir, as part of the TLC Book Tours for her book (read my review).
While I was writing Devotion I came upon the Sanskrit term samskara. A yoga teacher explained one day during class that samskaras are the tensions, pressures, memories, stored in our bodies that are sometimes released through the practice of yoga. Someone might be in the middle of a pose—say, a very simple forward bend, and find herself suddenly weeping. Or laughing. Or shaking. Why? Because a samskara has been activated, released. I found this whole idea completely compelling, revelatory. As a writer, I found myself thinking that samskaras are like stories. Our stories, embedded in our bodies. They never entirely go away, do they? What has happened to us during the course of our lives continues to live inside of us. This isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually a very beautiful thing, if we understand it properly. Nothing ever really goes away.
Just last week, I found myself grappling with a samskara for the first time in a while. I wasn’t doing my yoga practice. I wasn’t meditating. No. I was on Ninth Avenue in New York City, leaving a restaurant with another couple after a long dinner. The two men—my husband and our friend Jack—were walking ahead, having hailed a taxi. I was trailing behind with our friend Holly, talking. Not paying attention to where I was going, or the slick pavement, or the high heeled boots I was wearing, when suddenly, I was down. Down, so, so, fast. I fell forward, somehow (I have no memory of this) and landed on my knee, and on my cheekbone. My face pressed into the concrete of Ninth Avenue.
Fortunately—and somewhat miraculously—I wasn’t hurt nearly as badly as I could have been. My knee took the brunt of it, and my face somehow didn’t get bruised. Holly and my husband helped me off the street. Shaken, I got into the taxi. I kept moving. There was talk of stopping for ice, of going back to their apartment. I wondered if I was more badly injured than I felt. I had hit my face full-force, after all. But I kept moving, kept going. We took the taxi uptown, got our car, and my husband and I started the two-hour journey home.
Here’s the thing. That fall set off a samskara for me. The next morning, I was completely shaken. Teary. Twenty-five years earlier, my parents had been in a terrible car accident that killed my father and gravely injured my mother. It was my introduction to suddenness, to randomness, to the thin, thin veil that separates us at any given moment from mortal danger. From change. Illness. Accidents. Death. I carry that knowledge—that story, that samskara—within me. I don’t think about it very often, but when I fell that night on Ninth Avenue, it was reawakened in me. Oh, it seemed to be saying. Remember this?
The feeling passed. A day, or two, and I no longer felt that jarred, frightened feeling. I no longer felt on the verge of tears. I was grateful to be okay. But my body had reminded me that everything that has ever happened to me remains alive within me. A story. A samskara. A slip and fall on Ninth Avenue brought to life a fatal car accident on a snowy highway twenty-five years earlier. It reminded me of life’s randomness, life’s fragility. It also reminded me to count my blessings. There is much we can learn from what we carry with us.
Would you like to win a copy of Devotion? Harper Collins has offered to send a copy to one of my readers. The giveaway is open to U.S. and Canadian residents only (no P.O. boxes). I will accept entries until 11:59 PM Eastern Time on Friday, April 1.
To enter the giveaway:
Please let me know if you’ve ever had an experience with a samskara (even if you didn’t know at the time that that was what it was called) OR tell me why you want to read this book.
If you are a follower or subscriber, please let me know and I will give you another entry.
Make sure you provide me with a way of getting in touch with you. Entries that fail to answer one of the questions or that don’t provide a blog link or email address will be disqualified.
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED.