Thank you for everything, Judi Rice

December 19, 2017

I started practicing yoga with Judi Rice when she taught introductory courses in the evenings at a local university. She taught one class a week for eight weeks, introducing a few new poses each week. This was back in the late 1990s, and I was in my late thirties.

Somewhere around the fourth week we did the Savasana pose (corpse pose) at the end of the class, and as I began to relax into it I realized that I was in trouble. I began having the familiar feeling where it feels like every cell in my body is vibrating. This feeling is quickly followed by my body being paralyzed, a state I would later hear people at The Monroe Institute refer to as, “Mind awake, body asleep.” Once the paralysis started I wouldn’t be able to move my body, and the usual out of body experience (OBE) would begin. I didn’t want that to happen in a class of about twenty students, so I sat up quickly before the paralysis could set in.

Judi was walking around the room and observing everyone during this time, so she saw me sit up as fast as I could. She started to walk over to see what I was doing, but I waved her off like I was okay. I then laid down again, but instead of relaxing I kept moving and fidgeting so the vibrations wouldn’t start up again.

The next week we learned a few more poses, did Savasana at the end of the class, and the same series of events happened, concluding with me rapidly sitting up. I again waved Judi off, but now I felt like I owed her an explanation.

After the class I volunteered to help her carry all of her mats, ropes, and blocks back to her car. Fortunately for me I could carry everything, so nobody else walked with us.

I waited until we got close to her car, in case she felt the need to quickly run away from me or something similar. I stumbled over my words as I tried to explain my actions during Savasana.

“Judi ... there’s a reason I’ve been sitting up so abruptly during Savasana,” I started. “This is hard to explain, but when I relax like that, sometimes I get this feeling where it seems like I can feel every cell in my body vibrating, and then I become paralyzed, and then,” I paused here for quite a while, before blurting it out: “And then I have what you might call an out of body experience.”

I don’t know what I thought Judi might say, but because I was interested in having OBEs as often as possible, and because I kept having them during Savasana, I figured I was in the right class. I also began thinking that if anyone practiced yoga a lot the way Judi taught it, they would also have these same experiences.

I added, “Do you know anything about this, or does it sound familiar, or crazy?”, feeling vulnerable.

I don’t remember her exact words, but she said she had not experienced anything like that personally, but she had heard of these things, and she suggested I look into Kundalini Yoga. She explained that it was a different type of yoga that focused on raising certain types of energies in the body. I’m pretty sure she mentioned things like chakras and Chi, but I just kept trying to remember the name, “Kundalini Yoga,” which I had never heard of before.

This was a huge moment for me. After my wife, Judi was only the second person in the world I had ever talked to about this, and she treated the moment with kindness and openness, and gave me the best advice she knew. She would later teach me that this kindness was a part of her practice of Ahimsa.

Many years later — in January, 2010, I think — I was in one of Judi’s classes, and before the class started a fellow student asked why I was about to move back to Alaska. I explained to her that when I lived in the cabin in Talkeetna it was so quiet that I could really relax and feel extremely subtle feelings in my body during Savasana. I had no intention of talking about OBEs, but before I could say anything more the student said, “It sounds like you’re talking about astral projection.” By this time I quit hiding this stuff from most people — especially fellow yoga practitioners — so I said yes, the cabin in Talkeetna had been my launching pad for many adventures, several of which I had been able to validate here in the physical world. I’m not sure if anyone else in the class believed what I was saying, but when I looked at Judi she had a big smile on her face.

So although her physical body is no longer with us, I’m extraordinarily confident that we have an afterlife, and I’m also glad that she’s not suffering any more. As some people say, “We are spirits having a human experience here on Earth,” and now Judi’s spirit has gone home.

Namaste, Judi, and thank you for everything.

(Judi Rice passed away on December 12, 2014.)

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