Saturday, July 9, 2011

Bittersweet Symphony

It seems like everything I’ve been talking about in class for the last few weeks has led up to today's theme.  The universe is indeed a wonderful provider if we open up to receive what it has to offer.  It provided a sweet slice of serendipity this morning.

Let me explain...

Yesterday (Friday), I talked about the idea of training ourselves to live in the spaciousness of this moment without the need to make it into anything else, and about how by becoming spacious we experience what is already within us and intrinsically part of us. As we do so, we learn to open to the mystery in front of us.  

Of course, this requires that we pull back our perspective and start to expand our worldview from our tiny, closed off attitude to a larger, more inclusive way of looking at the world.  To do this, we start by blazing a trail through the sometimes rough and tangled underbrush of our inner landscape.  Once we hack our way through the jungle of our psyche, we begin to experience freedom from imbalance, struggle, judgement, ego and suffering. Once we begin the lifelong practice to free ourselves, it becomes easier and easier to trust the mystery that is life.

When I got up this morning and logged into my email, I found a beautiful article in Elephant Journal Magazine waiting in my inbox (I’ve shared it below). The article reminded me of a profound awakening that I experienced in February of 2003.  My otherwise healthy mother died after an eight month battle with cancer.  In the months after her diagnosis and prior to her passing, a friend introduced me to yoga through a book called Total Yoga by Nita Patel. It was a spiralbound book that I would spread out on the living room floor and go through page by page and practice the breathing techniques and postures that it recommended. I even started to change my diet based on what I had read. 

I truly beleive that as a result of finding yoga I was able to be fully present with my mom during her illness and when she passed away.  Being awake and aware helped me to look upon death as a sad but very beautiful transition... the ultimate mystery.  The experience taught me to LIVE as fully as I can and to celebrate life in all of its beauty and complexity.  It allowed me to open to mystery instead of being afraid of it (or closing myself off from life because of it).

As a society we are conditioned to fritter away our precious time by multi-tasking and keeping ourselves so busy and pre-occupied that we don’t have to think about what may be around the next bend.  We bury our heads in the sands of distraction hoping it will all stay as it is.  We avoid  mystery at all cost.

The truth is, we can’t know what is coming or when it will arrive or how it will change us. We simply can’t know. Nor can we ignore the inevitability of change. Life IS change.  WE are change.  We are a part of this amazingly bittersweet symphony of moments.

The practice of yoga teaches us to embrace the mystery by living right NOW with no regrets.  To open up to the richness of each moment whether or not we deem it “good” or “bad”.

But how do we get there?  How do we embrace the challenge of change?

First, we arrive.  We come home to our bodies - the container of our consciousness.  We feel our way into our sitting bones as we sit, we stretch into stiffness in postures, we press the breath deeper into our lungs as we inhale and let it go as we exhale.  We pay attention to what’s present. From the strong foundation of being present, we then connect with our breath - our anchor and a constant reminder of the fragile and beautiful balance we are a part of.  The breath reminds us to “be” right here, right now in balance. Once nestled in the embrace of the now, we then feel safe enough to let go and trust what lay before us shrouded in mystery.  

We can look at life as an epic adventure.  

What are you waiting for?  Open your arms, your heart, your soul to the adventure that lies ahead...

Until next time :)

The Mystery of Life 
by Yésica Pineda-Moreno from Elephant Journal Magazine

"First what’s first! -said the monk – clear your mind.

For how are you to know that the answers I will give you to these questions you are asking are true to you if your mind is confused?

Without your clarity, you will only be a victim of your own ignorance, and you might mistake my words with the noisy turmoil, which due to the conditions of your environment – your senses world – is constantly played in your head, making you miss your reality entirely.

First what’s first. Quiet down. Take a breath. Stop doing. Silently listen. Take a walk in a green forest.  Smell a flower. Walk the Earth. Find some clear water. Sit. Be still. Observe. Breathe. Spend time with yourself.

Don’t react when your mind resists your attempt to be still. Many people, many stories, many many judgments of yourself will go trough your mind as you’re making room for your happiness. Don’t react by quitting the moment, don’t escape what you don’t want to see, don’t crave what is bringing you pleasure, it is all a moment and will pass. Quite down. Take a breath. Stop doing. Silently listen. Breathe. Relax. Release. Let go. Forgive. Take a break. Pray. Breath again.

The mystery of life is just that, a mystery. It is beautiful, it is infinite, it is you, it is I. It is a baby in the womb, growing still, without questions, it just is…it is life. It is a Universe.

Stop your effort to become, and just be. Stop your quest to find out, and just know. Stop your anxious race to be unique, you already are.

How to know if you are right or wrong, if you are good or bad? you ask me. Is your thought, word or action harming others? I ask you.

How to know if you’ll be judged and punished by divinity? you ask me. Isn’t it us who judge ourselves ultimately? I ask you.

How to know if the world is going to end? you ask me. Isn’t the world always ending and beginning? I ask you.

How to achieve real happiness, real peace, real harmony? you ask me. What is keeping you from doing so? I ask you. Stop trying to achieve it. Be happy, live with peace, practice harmony. It’s your choice, you are free. Moment by moment, breath by breath.

Do not make the non essential essential, loosen up your chains to the world you live in, a world you create. Quiet down. Be yourself. Love. Help others be happy.
First what’s first! -said the monk – clear your mind.

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