Some life lessons must be learned over and over again. One of them is being kind to ourselves. The first time I learned to be kind to my body was the first year of marriage. The second time was a decade later when I found yoga. Suddenly, thanks to getting caught thinking, feeling, and saying really mean things about my body, it's time to learn it again. This is OK! After all, I’ve never been in my mid-fifties before. I’ve never loved a body as it starts to shift and change in ways that I am not able to control or change. This moment is an invitation to advance to “AP level” self-acceptance, nonviolence, and letting go. I'm ready! Are you?
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 am writing this on the eve of my birthday, annually a good day for a little introspection and retrospection. This year marks a birthday that ends with a 5, hopefully a mid-mark of another decade here on planet Earth. I remember vividly the joy and anticipation I felt when celebrating my last birthday that ended with a zero. In hindsight, I am thankful that one of my birthday gifts that year was not a crystal ball. Had I known how the next five years would challenge me, stretch me, and, in some ways, break me, I would have been more afraid than excited. But, while painful, the past five years, have also been a profoundly fertile time of growth and change – exactly what I believe we celebrate when we celebrate birthdays. I hope you'll join me in celebrating your next birthday as I am celebrating this one of min - as a wonderful opportunity to celebrate your capacity for growth and a moment to welcome the coming year with joy and anticipation.
If we're not aware, our mind can create a sense of scarcity that does not represent the real abundance of our lives. Doing so can send us into needless physical and mental anxiety. With a little mindfulness and some practice, it is possible for us to learn to choose an inner sense of relaxation rather than constriction which can be life-changing.
Practicing mindfulness while Christmas shopping? YES. A day spent among crowds, with little likelihood of a parking spot, and crazy, mid-December drivers with whom we share the roads reveal that the only thing we control in life is ourselves. Paying attention to how we're approaching these "obstacles" is a surefire way to have a happier day.
When you mix Thanksgiving’s abundance with the holiday’s emphasis on gratitude, a certain alchemy occurs - thankfulness morphs into generosity. Our trust in the plentifulness of life – knowing that we have everything we need – creates a shift in our outlook. Instead of looking around the world and craving more, we look around us and feel full, sated, cared for. Rather than needy, we feel ready and able to meet the needs of others. This Thanksgiving, and all the days that follow, I wish for you a sense of abundance that comes most beautifully from a grateful heart.
No matter how you choose to practice paying attention, with persistence and patience you will notice that almost everything you do all day is infused with a new richness and depth. Your whole life will take on a glow of gratitude as you recognize and absorb the wonder of your everyday life. Presence, like gratitude, will not be contained. They both splash abundantly into every corner of your existence – each enhancing the other as they do.