We humans are social creatures. Our nervous systems are actually designed to pick up on and imitate the emotions of others. We actually leak emotions to one another! In times like this one as we (all of us, around the world) navigate this pandemic, we are feeling the impact of this “emotional leaking” more than ever. Each of can practice being mindful of the emotions we share as we engage with the world around us by making sure the things we say are True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind. This level of awareness will help each of us to stay in the moment, which is the only place we can find some peace and calm. More importantly, when we’re feeling calm (or at least calmer), we will “leak” a little of that sense of calm to the world around us.
If you ever think you can’t make a difference in this messy, grumpy, sometimes mean world, think again. Take it from me, on even the worst of days, your choice to connect in kindness and concern for someone else will create ripples of goodness that will touch people you haven’t even met – perhaps even hundreds of miles away. All you have to do in most situations is ask, "How can I help you?"
We are all filled with light. Light that we share with the world around us deliberately through acts of kindness. Light that we also share with the world simply by being who we are. While we will never know all the ways that our own small light brightens the day for someone else, we can each be absolutely certain that this is happening. We are all little lanterns shining like luminaries in the world.
Yoga had something new to teach me about practice – and it didn’t take long to do so. Almost before I knew what was happening, I realized that I was practicing yoga not to get better at doing yoga, but to get better at approaching life the way I was learning to approach yoga on my mat. When I practiced yoga, I was practicing a way of being. I kept practicing because I wanted that way of being to become a habit that supported me all day long.
Is it possible to eagerly anticipate an event and still stay present to the moments of your life? It absolutely is. In fact, anticipation has been shown to increase happiness levels for up to 8 weeks before an event, which means you're better able to enjoy every single moment in those two months!
When a very close friend reacted with near speechlessness to my menu-, schedule- and list-free state one week before hosting Thanksgiving, I calmly said to him, “Good enough is going to have to be good enough." Not only was good enough good enough, but believing it was kept me as calm and centered over the holiday as the most perfectly-planned plan.
Struggle makes you a better person. Trust me. I speak from lots and lots of experience here. Injury. Illness. Imbalance. Pure inability. All have had more to teach me on my yoga mat than any teacher I’ve ever had (and I’ve had some really, really good ones). While I’m still waiting to be enlightened enough to actually feel thankful while in the grips of my pain, fear or frustration, because of my yoga practice, I am aware that I will (eventually) feel grateful for each of my struggles. This awareness makes me patient. It makes me persistent. It allows me to accept my inability – for now. It's not surprising that I am glimpsing this same strength and resilience in myself off my mat as well.
Acceptance is a big part of living your yoga. It can be tough to pull off during challenging times because it is easily misunderstood. Acceptance is not quitting. Acceptance is not saying, “I’m doomed.” Acceptance does not make a tough moment “forever” any more than the most wonderful moments of your life have lasted forever. Acceptance is simply the willingness to work with what you’ve got. To take the next step – and then the next and the next and the next. Acceptance is choosing to roll with whatever life has brought your way with creativity and grace and the faith that life holds many more twists and turns in store for you.
I did not have great experiences with philosophy classes in my years of higher education. Somehow, not a single one of my professors had ever been able to make me see the real-world applications of all these things that other people, ages ago, had thought about. When I started to study yoga philosophy, I understood immediately that it is less about ideas and more about living. From the very beginning, it was clear to me that yoga philosophy was something I wanted to think about. More importantly, it was something I wanted to do – all of the time.