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An excerpt from

The Adjustments

Chapter 1

“Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”-Carl Jung

Although they were meant to turn inward during yoga class, their focus was communal. They studied the mirror’s reflection-a group of women clad in black, streamlined clothing, posed on a floor dotted with colorful mats. They looked and judged themselves and the others although the practice of yoga was not meant for such vanity. Each member of the class was virtually a carbon copy of the other, though made distinct by her story, her mishap. In a small town, nothing went under the radar.

Their instructor led them through the poses, first seated with deep breaths, then upright, and then onto all fours. Sukhasana to urdhva vrikshasana to adho-mukha-svanasana. They moved as one to virabhadrasana I-or warrior I-looking up through raised, sinewy arms. They moved as one to virabhadrasana II-warrior II-and gazed out over their second fingers into the mirror, well aware of the areas on their bodies that still needed work. They moved as one through additional sun salutations and balancing poses, noting who in the studio maintained stillness and who faltered.

They moved, and their instructor, Yogi Jack, studied them, occasionally reminding them to breathe, to lengthen. He traveled quietly through the studio, widening stances, increasing stretches, and spotting bends. He adjusted them all but repeatedly returned and lingered with a select few.

They watched him, too. Handsome. Athletic. Desirable. Who would be his favorite today? Who would be the chosen adjustment?

They moved until settling into the dark and quiet in corpse pose-legs extended and arms at their sides. Shavasana. It was a time of personal reflection, but Jack continued to engage them. He moved from body to body, catlike, pushing down shoulders, gently tugging on legs, massaging necks and foreheads. He realigned bodies that had become stiff and uneven from the stress unique to mothers in a wealthy suburb.

Prone with eyes closed, the women could no longer study the mirror’s reflection. Their obsessive watching and their judgments-which were ultimately an avoidance of deeper thought-slowed. They finally relaxed. Similar to the moments before sleep, rational lines of thought blurred. Storylines intersected. Their personal censors were muted.

“Let go,” Jack intoned. “Let go of who you think you are.

“You are not your car.

“You are not your house.

“Don’t let material things define you.

“Don’t let the acquisition of them confine you.

“Open your mind.

“Release your imagination.

“When you do, anything is possible.

“You are divine.

“You are a goddess.”

They were here for more than a workout-they hoped to absorb an ancient, transformative wisdom, but their commitment to personal growth wasn’t likely to last beyond the moment. They would exit the darkened room and turn their iPhones back on. They would walk to their luxury cars. They would return to their impressive homes. The physical manifestations of their blinding and damning materialism would once again envelop them.

But before leaving, they were instructed to sit on their mats, cross-legged, hands at heart center-the sacred anjali mudra. They turned to face each other while Yogi Jack positioned himself at the studio’s center. The reflected view was gone. No more judgments buffered by darkness and indirect vistas. They were face-to-face.

“Namaste,” said Yogi Jack. “Honor and acknowledge your fellow yogis.”

“Namaste,” they echoed. They bowed to Jack and to each other, one at a time. Remembering, as they did, each woman’s story. Her flaw.

Beautiful and kind Kate Musto was raised by a drunk and saddled with a tenuous self-confidence. Her days were a juggle of masking a scarred childhood and an abusive marriage.

Spendthrift and drinker Leigh Gilding, the comical queen of a monstrous developer’s McMansion-a gigantic, oddly designed structure-was on a quest to void her trailer park history. As her children languished in her attic, money remained her king.

Garish and angry Brianna Worth-no stranger to the community’s police blotter-strived for approval in a town that would never embrace her. What lengths would she go to for acceptance?

And pretty and popular Adair Burns wanted nothing more than happiness. She wanted her husband and kids to love her. She wanted the community to admire her. She wanted Yogi Jack to desire her. Rejecting reality time and time again, she wanted and wanted and wanted.

They sat in lotus position in the lingering seconds of the class, wishing the vibe could last. It carried with it the promise of change-a break from their manic, perfectionist lifestyles-but they were torn. They had all bought into the same dream: an easy life filled with beautiful things and karmic debts that never had to be paid. Their dream was blinding. It kept them from knowing their own hearts.