I have been struggling with a quiet sadness for a while now. It’s not constant. It’s more nostalgia than sorrow. It pops up at surprising times – while walking into town, or sitting in the pew at church, or driving past mothers and children on bus stops. It is the vague ache of missing daily life with my now grown kids. Like leaves on a tree in autumn, we would be wise to hold each of life’s stages lightly. Even the sweetest times draw to an end. We are invited to gratefully let go of what was in order to step forward into the riches of what is next. This is not easy.
When you and I are kind, yoga philosophy promises that we are changing the world around us. My favorite way to grapple with yoga philosophy is with little real-life encounters. A random smile shared with a total stranger in Bed, Bath & Beyond last week accidentally confirmed that the ancient yogis were onto something! Pay attention - you want to be the change you want to see!
For six years my dog has been bounding into my garden, crushing my plants. For six years, I have been hollering at him. This pattern of ours had become so normal that I'd almost forgotten it was a problem I could solve. It turns out that a lot of our stress comes from little bursts of friction caused by our own behaviors and choices! The self-awareness that comes from yoga can go a long way toward smoothing these self-induced bumps in the road.
"You can be the sunshine for another person." It is simple - love one another. It is also difficult. Love takes effort, courage, creativity, generosity, and trust. It is also the most empowering thing we can do. Sharing your light in this world does not dim your light at all. In fact, sharing your light actually makes your light shine brighter. It is in giving ourselves away that we receive the riches of this wonderful life we're here to share.
An adolescent lack of self-awareness in a high school math class taught me the hard way about the power of body language when my teacher mistook my extreme discomfort as extreme indifference. Decades later my yoga practice furthered my understanding that mindful body language can help me convey to those around me that they are welcome, interesting, and valued.
Yoga philosophy teaches that letting go of extra “stuff” actually frees us. When we step back from our attachment to the stuff we have, the things we have no longer own us. Helping my son clean out his closet reminded me of the power of decluttering and how important it is to the quality of our lives to regularly clean out, pare down and straighten up our spaces, our days, and our minds.
Learning to play Wordle HURT my brain! This was a felt-experience in developing neuroplasticity or flexibility and it is very, very good for us. In fact, it keeps us young. Yoga is a great way to develop and maintain plasticity of both the body and the brain. Regularly rising to its challenges is a way to stay physically and mentally younger than our years for the rest of our lives.
It turns out (as it almost always does) that yoga teaches us not how get better at doing yoga, but how to get better at living life. One of the most important skills that yoga teaches is presence. When we are in the now life is richer and more meaningful. It is also more manageable. When we are where our feet are we can navigate even the most challenging events of our life with grace and poise.
I am grateful to my new mindfulness teacher, Julia, a customer service representative who I will probably never meet, for the loving reminder that we are connected. Thank you, Julia, for the renewed certainty that in every act we take (even when online shopping), we have the power to be more than polite. We can be thoughtful and kind. And that matters greatly.