I saw something pretty special this week: a small, but exquisite murmuration of a flock of birds. This sight affirmed for me that the “work” you and I do – the way we love the people around us, the way we stick to our principles, the way we try to live our values, the way we can choose to make our faith a way of life rather than a way of thinking – all matters tremendously to the world around us. I can imagine, one day, getting such a perspective that we could see the great "murmuration" of which you and I are parts - the graceful artistry of the dance of Life. Each person doing their own small part to add to the magical harmony of the whole.
When life takes a twist or a turn, try to resist the impulse to grit your teeth, squinch your eyes, and white-knuckle life back onto its “proper” (a.k.a. planned by you) path. Instead, practice the willingness to change our plans at a moment’s notice. "We will not be upset if our plans are upset" if we are determined to stay open to what is.
From death springs an abundance of life. Death in a rainforest gives life more expansive and meaningful than one glorious life lived - a grand gesture of love. Life is patiently growing and changing and becoming – in the rainforest, in our backyards, and in us, too. Death is right here, too. Big, huge losses, yes. But more often the series of smaller “deaths” that are necessary to our growth in life. Jobs coming to an end. Relationships breaking down. Passions waning for hobbies and interests. Without death, there is no space for new life. The rainforest teaches that without death, we lack the “humus” we need to support our growth – the wisdom of experience, the flexibility to change course, the forgiveness for mistakes made, the humility to say “whoops!” and try again.
Regular rest is a fundamental part of success, health, and happiness. It helps us exist as human beings rather than "humans doing." Practicing silence, mindfulness, and breathing are three ways to rest that create deep healing, inspire bursts of creativity, and offer clarity.
You and I are human beings. As long as we live and breathe, we are going to experience reactions. We are not practicing yoga to eliminate reactions. We are practicing to weaken or (maybe … one day …) even eliminate the power our reactions have to dictate our responses to life.
Admit it. As funny as the line is, you too have said or wanted to say, "Oh. I wish I could, but I don't want to." We humans just don't always want to do the right thing. This is one of the real-life stumbling blocks that yoga philosophy can help us navigate.
Too often enlightenment is deemed something for barefoot sages on mountaintops. This isn't true. Enlightenment is possible for YOU. All you need is practice so that the next time you snuggle a puppy, or walk in the falling snow, or watch your dad help your mom into the car, you will be so overwhelmed with noticing that noticing is all you are doing. These moments are enlightenment. And each one you notice is enough to inspire a lifetime of practice.
The pandemic has left some feeling awash in time and wandering a bit aimlessly as a result, not getting as much accomplished as expected. Others are scrambling to keep up with seemingly relentless demands on each waking minute - and some minutes when they really ought to be sleeping. (Working and parenting from home? I’m talking to you.) In short, whether you feel time-abundant or time-poor, time is a precious resource that, invested mindfully, can help us live meaningful, happy lives.
Without some type of contemplative practice, when life bites most of us will bite back. Our knee-jerk reaction is to get defensive. We allow the initial, totally natural, wave of feelings to dictate our response to whatever is upsetting us. This doesn’t make us bad people. It makes us human people. In other words, this is simply the way we are hard-wired. Regular contemplation re-wires us.