Huffpost Books
The Blog

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Claudia Ricci Headshot

Seeing Red -- "Breathing Rainbows into Her Toes"

Posted: Updated:

"Breathing Rainbows Into Her Toes"

She knows it's crazy, but she is breathing rainbows into her toes.

The music helps. In it, rain is falling. And tropical birds are calling, deep and throaty. Just when she's begun to enjoy the birds, they give way to ocean sounds, with waves crashing on the shore.

Ronda is lying on a floor mat, upside down, balanced on her shoulders. Her feet tower above her face. In her mind she keeps floating to different places. Each has a sky as blue as a
cornflower, and clouds of billowy cotton.

The teacher - whose name is Rama Do - is saying something. The words are slow and soft, his voice soothing. "Now let the breath come up inside your chest like a kitten and let the kitten lie curled there, right inside your lungs. Feel the rhythm of that air, in and out."

He pauses and Ronda is hypnotized. She sees a milky blue sky. "Now let go of the air inside you. Watch it rise. Watch it swell slowly up through your pelvis. Stare at it. A pot of golden light."

Ronda closes her eyes, wanting to give into sleep. The voice keeps going. "The air and light are moving into your thighs...and now your knees. Slow down there. Watch the light circling around your knees. And the ankles. Finally, it reaches the toes."

Her calves are pulsing and the pressure on her throat and jaw are growing. But inside her head, she is watching something light rising up the smooth purple mountain slopes that are her legs.

"The light separates as it reaches your toes," the voice goes on. "Each of your toes is a different color of the rainbow. See the big toe. Red. Orange fills up the next. And then yellow. And green."

The green makes Ronda think of lush mountain slopes. And trees sprouting spring leaves.
He continues with the cool colors, but Ronda is distracted. The pressure is getting almost unbearable in her face and neck. She will be very glad when the teacher allows them to roll out of the pose and back down to the floor.

"Now, with your toes full of rainbow light, see if you can drop your hands from behind your hips. Try to hold steady in that shoulder stand just a few minutes without the assistance of your hands."

She lets her arms drop to the floor. Her heart is pumping hard enough that she can hear and feel the steady beat, repeating inside her head. She struggles to stay balanced on the upper edge of her back, but as soon as the young woman on the next mat tips over and drops down to the floor, Ronda does the same.

Glancing to the back of the room, she sees Jack still balanced, sturdy on his shoulders.
She inhales and closes her eyes. She sees Jesús, sitting in a chair in a dark smoky cave, bound hand and foot. His mouth is bruised and slack and bloody, and his eyes are covered by a blindfold.

"My God," Ronda whispers. She snaps upright and one hand over her mouth. For the first time, it hits her. Jesús is in trouble.

She glances at Jack again. He is back on his mat, lying limp like everybody else.

Ronda eases herself backward onto her mat. But the vision still grips her, goes even further than before.

Jesús is sitting in front of a fire, or at least some kind of a light is throwing an orange glow on his body. Two other figures are there. A young woman with billowing dark hair. An old man. Something about the expression on the man's face scares her.

Following the teacher's instruction, she rolls slowly onto her hands and knees. Her head hangs, chin to chest.

Jesús appears again. This time, he has been knocked off his chair. His blindfolded face plows into the dirt floor of the cave. The older man just gave him a sharp kick him in the ribs. Jesús has buckled over, his mouth open, and blood is flowing out between his teeth. He chokes but makes no sound.

Ronda sits back on her haunches. Without understanding why, she knows two things: somewhere, Jesús is hurting. And somehow, she needs to go.