Housekeeping is good for you! In yoga philosophy the first of five practices that support our intention to live a spiritual life (niyamas) is purity (sauca). Even 2500 years ago when these practices were codified, our ancient yoga teachers knew something profound – when you take care of the world around you, keeping it clean and orderly, you are also taking care of your inner landscape.
My new little sunflower garden has given me a glimpse of a future that feels hopeful and a little exciting. This is looking ahead that I think even our yoga teachers would sanction. It is a forward glance with an open heart and mind. It is looking to the future with curiosity rather than with a desire for a particular outcome. It is anticipation that doesn’t pull us out of the moment, but rather inspires us to savor each moment along the way. It turns out that I’m just as excited to go out and check on my little sunflower seedlings each morning as I am to (maybe ... hopefully) have their bright, happy faces smiling at me as I walk to my yoga studio later this summer.
Lately, after dinner, we’ve been working on a jigsaw puzzle. In addition to fostering easy, comfortable togetherness, the practice of “puzzling” has taught me three valuable life skills. 1) It’s a good idea to begin by building the border or foundation. 2) What you’re looking for doesn’t always look like you expected it to look. 3) Sometimes you must stop focusing on the image you’re trying to create and soften your gaze to look only at the shape of the pieces you have in order to see where they fit.
In uncomfortable situations we often immediately weather a powerful sense of aversion. “I don’t want this!” “This isn’t what I planned!” “This isn’t fair!” Because we’ve been practicing, however, we know that this surge of emotion (often quite justified) will pass if we pause and take a few breaths. Once we settle down and accept that what is happening is, indeed, happening, we free ourselves to get creative. We set ourselves up to do things we never thought we would do, or never even dreamed we’d be able to do. We may even find ourselves feeling grateful for the chance to stretch and grow.
Resilience is a powerful quality in a crisis. Here are 5 science-backed ways to practice resilience on your yoga mat so you feel more resilient in life. 1) Change the narrative. 2) Face your fears. 3) Practice self-compassion. 4) Meditate. 5) Cultivate forgiveness.
"Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes." While making mistakes may not be your favorite thing to do, you can learn from every one of them. And the satisfaction you feel when you figure it (whatever it is) out at last is all the sweeter and more lasting because of the mistakes you make along the way.
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.