It’s been a little while since I’ve written – since I’ve been on my mat – since I’ve had the time to sit and enjoy a simple cup of coffee in silence.
So here I sit… with my cuppa joe… after a lovely session on my mat at the Den… catching my breath.
It felt great being back in the room, on my mat, hearing familiar voices, guiding me, reassuring me, encouraging me, feeling and watching the sweat drip off of me, even feeling how much strength my body has lost in this bit of time. Even though I’ve done my own practice at home, it’s been nearly a month of absence from the Den. The holidays are busy and it’s understandable how we get caught up in the “must do’s” and “be here’s”. So it felt good to catch my breath… and let it go.
In these cold winter months, it can be quite difficult to find my breath. I live in Florida and some of you (if you live in colder climates) may say, ‘Ha! That’s not cold!’. Well… it is to me ’cause I’m a summer girl. Even though I love sitting by a fire, wrapping up in scarves, layering up for yoga, I get cold – down to my bones. My shoulders tend to tighten and pull forward and my body gets all jacked up. So even more so during the winter months, I find it important to take time, fill the lungs with intention and let it out, giving my back a good stretch and releasing the shoulders.
I had written this next part a few days ago but couldn’t really get out onto this virtual paper what I wanted to say or how I wanted to say it. I came across this poem, loved it immediately and wanted to expand on it. But I got stumped. It leaves me with such thought that it’s taken a bit to sink in and digest. It still leaves me a bit speechless, but I wanted to share it with you anyhow. Life is crazy busy – the holidays are crazy busy – so much so that we sometimes forget what it’s all about. I’m not a religious person (concurring with a recent friend’s statement online), but I do love the holidays and what it brings to mind with all the lights, the music, the gatherings, the food, the wine, the feeling of tradition, and the hopes with anticipation.
Christmas Night ~
My children are fast asleep after a very busy Christmas day. Two are snuggled tightly in a twin bed together at their own choosing. The other is buried under a mound of stuffed animals, including her new dream light pet that shines stars on the ceiling as she falls asleep, no longer able to keep her eyes open in awe. Knowing they will leave tomorrow for a week away, I tried to savor every laugh, every hug, every ounce of excitement, every tear of frustration and to express out loud how much they are loved. They grow way too fast, and in a week they will seem nearly a year older.
Last week, in all the hustle and bustle of pre-Christmas stuff, I was feeling quite tight and stressed. It was cold and my back kinked up with every little stretch I did. So I rolled out my mat, turned on the heat and had it blasting from my face down to my toes. It felt great but still my back would not give. So I did some downward-facing dogs, planks, cat/cows, and side planks. It wasn’t until I found bound half-moon that I felt my chest open and my back stretch and release. At the same time, I felt my heart open and appreciate all the love that surrounds me. And I wondered what others were feeling and how I could share this peace, this openness, this love if it was needed (as it often is with me). Then I stumbled across this poem by Ganga White, founder of White Lotus Foundation.
What if religion was each other?
What if we invested in each other as much as we invest in religion? What if we make a conscious effort to visit someone we love every week? What if we go out of our way to let someone know they are thought of and appreciated and loved no matter rain or shine, good times or bad.
If our practice was our life?
What if we showed up with an intention every day? It doesn’t have to be big but maybe something as simple as sharing a smile. And with that intention we discover each challenge, each breath, each movement becoming more graceful, more natural.
If prayer was our words?
What if we put as much thought into our words with each other as we do when we construct a prayer? Why should the reverend receive all the good words, good phrases, well-construed feelings? What if we told others exactly what we hoped, dreamed, wished for? Or that which would make our lives a little easier? What if we spoke with grace and respect for the person in front of us?
What if the temple was the Earth?
If forests were our church?
If holy water—the rivers, lakes, and oceans?
What if we took time to appreciate our surroundings, perhaps feeling the life force behind this universe, whatever name you may give it ? What if we found strength and solace in nature? What if we took care of our Earth and realized its enormous healing abilities? And that if we don’t take care of her, she won’t take care of us?
If the Teacher was life?
What if we lived with no regrets? If we saw each triumph, each failure as an opportunity to learn about ourselves? Everything in your life up to now has made you who you are. Appreciate it and accept it, even the bad. Each of us has an abundance of gifts to share. Soak it up and share with the best intentions.
If wisdom was self-knowledge?
What if the goal was not how much you know about the world, but how much you know about yourself? And with that knowledge, if you knew how best to share it with others?
If love was the center of our being?
What if we live in love first, and not fear? If we see the best in others, and not the worst? If we speak with our heart, as well as our mind?
It’s still a lot to take in and a lot to muddle through. But in times of high stress, these questions help me separate myself from the hurriedness of life and bring me back to center. I love the crazies and the wild times, but I also love the soft and the quiet times. I’ve needed this for a little while now and I hope you’ve found it too.
Catch your breath… and let it go.
Have faith in the New Year. More goodness to come.
Namaste (with a smile)