I loved bike riding on our recent bike trip for a surprising reason. I loved it because it created the same state of mind that has kept me unrolling my yoga mat for 20 years – one of being 100% engaged in exactly what I’m doing for every moment that I’m doing it. In other words, I traveled to Croatia to accidentally discover another mindfulness practice.
Do you remember the opening line of the movie Four Weddings and a Funeral? Hugh Grant opens one eye as he is fumbling for the snooze button on his alarm clock to see the time and exclaims, “F*#k!” I don’t think I’ve ever laughed so hard before a movie even got going. In real life, harried is not a funny (or fun) way to start a day. Yet, more mornings than I care to admit, I wake up feeling like there is not enough time in the day. Almost as soon as I open my eyes, I feel harried and hurried. While some days are legitimately busy, most are not. Most mornings were I to take a “get some perspective” pause, there is plenty of time. Time to spare, even. What's a gal to do? Read on.
“I was thinking about the GPS in my car. It never gets annoyed at me. If I make a mistake, it says, ‘Recalculating.’” Have you ever considered the spiritual role model your GPS could be? Calm. Even keeled. Gracious. Creative. Endlessly patient. Even (especially!) when finding solutions to some ludicrous mistakes and wrong turns. Can you imagine accepting your mistakes and wrong turns with such poise? Can you imagine extending the same grace to your partner or your children? What would it take (short of being a piece of technology) to navigate life with such a certainty that all will be well? That all that is needed is a moment to calculate a new route?
We live every moment at the frontier of what we know and what we don't know. It is at this frontier that we explore the growth and possibility of our lives. Living here - as I learned as a child from Laura Ingalls and her family - requires grace, courage, focus, and a willingness to embrace the reality that none of us know where we are going and that is wonderfully OK.
"You can be the sunshine for another person." It is simple - love one another. It is also difficult. Love takes effort, courage, creativity, generosity, and trust. It is also the most empowering thing we can do. Sharing your light in this world does not dim your light at all. In fact, sharing your light actually makes your light shine brighter. It is in giving ourselves away that we receive the riches of this wonderful life we're here to share.
An adolescent lack of self-awareness in a high school math class taught me the hard way about the power of body language when my teacher mistook my extreme discomfort as extreme indifference. Decades later my yoga practice furthered my understanding that mindful body language can help me convey to those around me that they are welcome, interesting, and valued.
What if you could choose your pace each day? What if you could choose to be calm? What if you could pause and allow hectic thoughts and chaotic feelings to settle? What if you could do all these things and more WHENEVER you felt out of kilter? If that sounds as good to you as it does to me, we’ve got a very good reason to add a few (more) minutes of meditation to our days.
In the heat of the moment of disagreement with my husband, my yoga practice provides a moment of clarity and space. While our frustration did not disappear immediately, our feelings of aloneness and isolation in the problem did. The reminder that I am part of a "we" held together by love (yoga's promise of oneness or union) added hope that our best chance of navigating our challenging situation was together.
It turns out (as it almost always does) that yoga teaches us not how get better at doing yoga, but how to get better at living life. One of the most important skills that yoga teaches is presence. When we are in the now life is richer and more meaningful. It is also more manageable. When we are where our feet are we can navigate even the most challenging events of our life with grace and poise.