It’s funny; in this era of e-mail and voice mail and all those things that even I did not grow up with, a plain old paper letter takes on amazing intimacy-
Its amazing what happens when we surrender to our true selves, being present and our breath. Healthy relationships gradually begin to enter our life, and the “things” we have been so diligently working on begin to bear new fruit.
I have been struggling with my breath for quite a while now. I show up to class, go through the motions during my home practice and never truly fall into rhythm during a nice bike ride or the rigors of daily life. Why? My breath has escaped me.
I believe the true cause is largely a matter of personal habit. Our lives, my life, is excessively filled with constant activity and incessant noise and distraction. I have grown accustomed to them, so mush so, that when they come to a halt, I feel uneasy. There’s a startling sense of emptiness, as if I’ve suddenly landed in a deserted corn field after being in the middle of a bustling city.
When I can resist the urge to plunge myself fully into an activity, I soon begin to surrender to solitude, silence and my breath. My agitated mind starts to calm. My thoughts start to slow down, and I feel a sense of re-attuning to myself, I feel a sense of connection – to my own self, and to the world as a whole.
When I listen to my breath, I begin to find a new balance and harmony in my life.
Out for a walk tonight,
the dog is throwing all her weight
against the leash, lunging toward
the fat tomcat
licking his black ankles
with a delicious, solemn attention
at the top of the neighbor’s steps.
Because this is what the dog
was made to do.
Because for some lucky animals
the space between the body
and what it wants
is all there is.
You may plainly perceive the traitor through his mask; he is well-known everywhere in his true colors; his rolling eyes and his honeyed tones impose only on those who do not know him-
Why am I waking up this morning?
The answer is, hopefully, not because I have to or I should, but rather … I have a sense of purpose and direction for this wonderful day.
Being able to adapt well to a myriad of challenges, to be able to bounce back from a period of difficult times, requires me to have a sense of direction in my life and a belief that I am acting in a way that is consistent with my true personal values.
What day is it? “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. My favorite day,” said Pooh-
My acts, these posts, are not necessarily random but they are based on kindness and service.
Seva, above all else, has been essential for my transformation, personal growth and for tapping into my creativity (little what’s left of it). At every step of my journey I have felt the need to be sharing in some shape or form with you. I have believed from the very first post that it’s important to see that we are all in this together, it’s not about acquiring more stuff or taking care of what you have, it’s about actively contributing to the whole “thing” I like to call Life.
Life, all the beautiful beings we consciously choose to ignore, the furry cute little creatures, plants and even mother earth, we are all in a symbiotic relationship with one another. When we step outside of our ego driven selves to take time to give, to contribute, to listen, to love, to heal, to teach, to be compassionate in our daily action(s) for all forms of life? We are expressing mindful love through Seva. As we take time each and every day to become more mindful of our thoughts, words and actions we begin to take a breath of unfettered mindfulness. This breath allows us to slow down, to pause, to listen and not react to the little things spinning around us or being trampled under foot.
When we act with mindful love guiding ourselves, we bring the best out of those we interact with on a daily basis. Winnie the Pooh once said “Beings are like honey pots, those that get the most mindful attention yield the sweetest of honey.” Action and reaction -aka- the Law of Karma begins and ends with how we mindfully care and love after our own gardens first <— This is critical, and then learning that through Seva, we can bring forth the best in all the beings we live with.
Some, many folks, try to express mindful love through “pay it forward campaigns” – “social media pats on the back” and a “look at my loving attitude,” self-serving way of living. Seva is as simple as sitting down with a friend after yoga class who is going through a difficult time, cleaning out your cluttered closet and giving what you haven’t worn in five years to a local homeless charity, volunteering at a local animal shelter, or working in a food kitchen for a day. If you don’t have time for this? Then maybe consider donating to a charity or organization that makes you smile and your heart gently glow. The Action and Reaction – The Law of Karma – isn’t as important as the feelings of love and kindness behind it. When the right energy is sent with the most humble of gift(s), the world can simply multiply your actions a million times over.
I encourage each and every one of you taking a moment to read this post, to embrace Seva. May kind, and compassionate thoughts spring forth from your heart this weekend – Take care and be well!
After we picked you up at the Omaha airport,
we clamped you into a new car seat
and listened to you yowl
beneath the streetlights of Nebraska.
Our hotel suite was plump with toys,
ready, we hoped, to soothe you into America.
But for a solid hour you watched the door,
shrieking, Umma, the Korean word for mother.
Once or twice you glanced back at us
and, in this netherworld where a door home
had slammed shut forever, your terrified eyes
paced between the past and the future.
Umma, you screamed, Umma!
But your foster mother back in Seoul never appeared.
Your new mother and I lay on the bed,
cooing your birth name,
until, at last, you collapsed into our arms.
In time, even terror must yield to sleep.
I wanted only to live in accord with the promptings which came from my true self. Why was that so very difficult?-
How do we retain a balanced centre when all the structures we have centered our lives around appear to be falling away? Lately, I have been personally challenged on multiple fronts: My health, future decisions at work, and at home. In essence – I feel ungrounded.
It is important for me to preface that I had not practiced yoga seriously before, and that I did not understand the benefits a regular practice could afford me. I mention this because I want you to feel that I was, in certain ways, an unlikely candidate to be a “yoga” convert. Nonetheless, I discovered yoga when my friend Rachel instructed me during a physical therapy session (after one of my knee surgeries) to lie on the floor with my legs up against the wall. “Cool Jeremy?!?” she said. “We are going to breathe now.” In breath, I discovered a way to temporarily relieve the nausea like effects of severe pain and frustration, knowing I will never be who I was before. The kind of anxiety that cuts deeply, and shallows your breath.
In the months following surgery and slowly winding down therapy, yoga gifted a pathway for me to experience myself, in my body again. In a rich, inspiring-hued yoga studio, tucked away in West Omaha, lit in the evening with candles, with the sweet scent of Nag Champa dancing through the still air. I learned to stay in the moment, even as I yearned to escape it – To be outside training for the next race.
No matter how hard I tried, I could not escape the memories I associated with the abuse I put myself and those around me through – the warm spring air against my scarred, raw skin. The fact that I was still bruised and bleeding, the pale moonlight that flooded the cool sky at night. I tend to spend a lot of time thinking about the past and a lot of time wondering about the future. It is much more difficult to stay focused on what is happening right now in this beautiful moment. And still, in a pose, a flowing Asana, I could hold on.
The beauty of yoga is, is that it teaches us, that “things” do come to an end. The process of being immersed in a nurturing space and staying with whatever sensations emerge, and seeing how they come to an end is a profound process. To do this day, as I write sitting and standing due to being uncomfortable with my physical self. It has always been a source of shame to me that I have trouble being – Still – Not competing and comparing myself to others. Through yoga, I can express my true self in a good, a cool kind of way (even as a dude), my tense scarred face eases, and my heart feels wonderfully alive as though I could open it to the world, and I would just … Stay.
Lying on my wide, worn yoga mat early this past winter, I listened to my favorite instructor explaining the path of enlightenment to our warm class. Knowing the limitations of my own attention span, I don’t know enough about them to try exploring them here, but there was such exquisite beauty in her description of being released, unbound from suffering. My mind was scattered as my body was contorted on the grey mat – The whole of me was trying to emerge in this delicate moment. Like a blank canvas before the inspired artist, at first blank, then a beautiful image tremulously appearing.
What I discovered in me, the blank canvas early one Saturday morning, was enough (I’ll never be truly whole, but enough).
In the years since being introduced to yoga and mindfulness, my practice has ebbed and flowed, in so much that I don’t really practice “yoga” regularly in a studio now – the Asanas. Perhaps I will again soon? Perhaps not … Pausing, on second thought, I sit here smiling, knowing my devotion to yoga with immense gratitude for the true and singular comfort it brought to me. Through all of my suffering, the pain, the loss. It is necessary, to surrender, fully, to the things that sustain ones true spirit.
There comes a time when you look into the mirror and you realize that what you see is all that you will ever be. And then you accept it. Or you kill yourself. Or you stop looking in mirrors-
Recently I have been reading some old posts and drafts that were never tidied up, and there is one in particular, I would like to share with you again … When the time is right. At the time I was still exploring and awaking to my true path in life. I was crass and rude then, cocksure and quite frankly – mean-spirited. Competition and ego oozed from my pours, and I was not a very pleasant person to be around.
Life has thrown me a series of off speed pitches of late, thank you for understanding the lack of posts and my absence. I hope each one of you reading this morning has a wonderful weekend – Take care and be well!