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.
"How does an apple ripen? It sits in the sun." Patience and persistence can be far more effective agents of change than the proverbial blood, sweat, and tears. Keep showing up. Trust the process. But recognize that you don't need to be in control. Leave some space for unimaginable possibilities, surprising twists and turns, and miracles too great to even hope for. Life won't let you down.
One of the hardest aspects to grapple with within yoga philosophy and spirituality in general is the idea of the Authentic Self and the false self. It was a relationship with a student that finally demystified my intellectual understanding and brought it to life.
Did you know that “Be not afraid.” is in the Bible 365 times? There are enough “Be not afraids” that we could read a different one every day of the year. That is how important this message is to anyone seeking a full, spiritually deepened life experience. Interestingly, while yoga philosophy doesn’t phrase it quite the same way, “Be not afraid” is a central message to yoga seekers on and off the mat.
Many of us get stuck "fixin' to" do something. "Fixin' to" does not create results. Results come from practicing and doing. Preparing is a good thing unless you get stuck there. A yoga practice is a powerful way to train yourself to slide gracefully and courageously from the "fixin' to" stage into rich, illuminating, growth-filled action.
Your chosen spiritual practice(s) are like a GPS for life. Whatever your practice, you have chosen a tool that helps you get where you’re going. But you do have to allow it to lead the way. When you stick to the “route” suggested by your practice, you will get where you’re going with fewer wrong turns and detours.
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.