As a recovering perfectionist, yoga and meditation have been powerfully healing. Richard Rohr writes, “If there is such a thing as human perfection, it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle the imperfection that is everywhere, especially in ourselves.” I'll confess to being a little tweaked by the idea of one day being able to handle my imperfections perfectly. Lucky for me, my practices continue to give me a zillion chances to surrender to just how out of reach even that teeny-tiny chance of perfection is.
When an old friend smiled and said, "Life is being very lifey, isn't it?" he packed loads of wisdom and mindfulness into a five letter, made-up adjective. Lifey is a skill we can practice. When we accept that life is being lifey, we are able to maintain the same even keel when when our kid is injured, or our parent is sick, or we’ve lost our job, or our partner is leaving us as when we’ve gotten the promotion at last, or when we’re head over heels in new love, or when the kids are all getting along. A perspective of life being lifey, in good times and hard times, holds life lightly; trusts that life will change; and understands that life is a series of moments – all of which can be relished.
My husband went fishing over the weekend. He loves this annual trip, and his excitement makes me happy. I will confess that just the thought of having the house to myself for two whole days also makes me happy. Or at least it used to. This time was different. Or maybe it was me that was different. Rather than relishing my time alone I was a little astonished to find I was lonely. It turns out that as my life has changed, so have I. Going forward I will change the way I approach these weekends home alone so that they are a happy break that "who I am now" rather than "who I once was" will enjoy.
Creativity focuses the mind and also releases feel-good hormones, leaving you feeling more centered and less anxious. You don't need to buy an easel or sign up for pottery classes. There are a million surprising ways that you can be creative every day - even when doing the most basic chores. Whether your practice is yoga, meditation, or something else, once you get a taste for mindfulness, a part of you – even subconsciously – will seize little opportunities all day long to recreate that stillness, silence, and spaciousness.
Fear can come upon us as suddenly and as hugely as a summer thunderstorm on a hike in the mountains. One of the gifts of mindfulness practices is that they free us to navigate fear one step at a time. We learn to recognize that most of what is upsetting us is fiction - worries and imaginings created by our mind. We learn to narrow our focus to the next necessary step. Most importantly, we learn that freedom from fear's paralyzing effects doesn't mean we won't still feel afraid. We're human after all!
On a walk, I glimpsed a woman who looked just like 30-years-ago-me and rocketed down memory lane. In a flash I remembered (in really real way) what it felt like to be 25 and “on my way.” Almost as quickly, I realized that, while I recognized her, there is no way she would recognize me - there is no way she could have dreamed of the life (my life) in store for her. And this realization is exciting – thrilling even. I appreciate (from the depths of my heart) the reminder that I truly have no idea what life has in store for 60- or 65- or 85-year-old me. 30 years later, my horizon remains as filled with possibility as it did then.
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?