Toutes les opinions ne se valent pas, et il ne faut pas confondre l’éloquence d’une parole avec la justesse d’une pensée-
I used to describe my yoga “practice” as something to do when it was too cold or wet outside to go for a bike ride, better yet – Cleaning the garage. My practice this afternoon, in this moment … Is much different.
Some years ago at 8th Avenue Yoga in Omaha, I was kindly invited to attend a yoga for “beginners” workshop by a close and dear friend. This was a profound step for me personally. The instructor was kind, a caring bully you could say. I feared I wouldn’t measure up to Jeff’s standards and the rest of the class for that matter. I was dead nervous unrolling out my mat for the first time, as the fresh rubber smell wafted in the studio air, my heart pounding with anticipation of what was soon to come.
I tucked myself away in a back corner, near a set of blinds that were gently drawn back to let the morning sunlight pour in. Worrying about how my fellow classmates would see me as they walked into the warmly lit studio, I thought about how I should appear like I belonged, to seek their approval. My mind, fixed on me, and I was deeply shaken as we were asked to step to the top of our mats.
Before the workshop, I was exploring an increasing number of possible paths to seeking what I thought was perfection: Researching “mindfulness” … Self-confidence books, self-esteem courses, self-acceptance whatever, forgiveness from others, inner peace mantras and yoga “body” classes online. At each turn along this path, it was consistently suggested to me that I was living my life in the wrong way. I needed to do this, in order to became that.
Fondly remembering my first class, I recall not being open to the idea that I was “okay” and that only I know what is best for me. I learned, slowly, over the years that it’s perfectly fine to have flaws, that it’s okay to be different, and it’s absolutely essential to smile (I still struggle with this).
What I failed to realize after gathering my sweaty self from the mat after that first class was that, you are okay, and you have what it takes to be the person you are meant to become.
My imagination functions much better when I don’t have to speak to people-
The moment I finally surrendered my heart and mind to being alone, solitude became so, so sweet.
Equanimity, allowing the world to unfold before your very eyes. Steady, kind, compassionate thoughts. Your mind not grasping, reaching, or recoiling from the unpleasant words sitting just behind your pursed lips and brow. When this happens? The sweet pulse of the universe, resonates deeply.
Cultivating self-compassion softens the loneliness that often makes finding equanimity unbearable. I often have to remind myself that the pain of loneliness, ebbs and flows. Sure, my loneliness is burning deep right now. Although if I’m patient?!? This loneliness too shale pass, and the sweetness of equanimity will soon take its place.
The world is full of magic things, patiently waiting for our senses to grow sharper-
From an early age, I was led to believe that I needed to become a “better” and “improved” version of myself, even if at first I didn’t exactly understand why. When I was young lad, I found myself inured with the basic belief that the main underlying issue to all my problems was – Me. I’m what’s wrong in the world. These thoughts have stayed with me my entire life, even now, writing to you with an open heart and mind. I have traveled the world far and wide; taken to heart many self-help books, sought out the best doctors and healers, consulted spiritual folks whose motives were unclear at the time. Everything and anything else you can imagine, all in an effort to make myself just good enough.
Many of you reading tenderly this early Spring morning, may be thinking that mindfulness, spirituality and self-help are one in the same – the latest trend to follow or a conversation starter at your local yoga studio. I don’t believe they are. Using myself as a relatively small sample size, I believe they are fundamentally different. Our society is currently in the process of turning mindfulness into an endless stream of self-help profits – Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction seminars and many other method(s) for correcting our life long ailments. What these programs do, is to misrepresent the awakening that discovering our own spirit offers.
Mindfulness is not about “fixing” anything even remotely spiritual or becoming spiritually better off than anyone else. There is no price tag attached to mindfulness. For myself, mindfulness is freedom. Freedom from the belief of my unworthiness in our mad world … Mindfulness is about acceptance. Mindfulness, when I find myself at the edge of tears after a bad day, is about meeting (again) who we really are, and allowing ourselves to experience this amazing world, in this raw, unsettling moment.
My deepest apologies for being absent Dear Readers. May all your hearts be filled with warmth and happiness this weekend – Take care!
Gracious acceptance is an art – an art which most never bother to cultivate. We think that we have to learn how to give, but we forget about accepting things, which can be much harder than giving…. Accepting another person’s gift is allowing him to express his feelings for you-
Throughout our live(s) we have been led to believe that giving outweighs receiving. During the Christmas/Holiday/Festivus season, the humble “art” of giving serves as a counterbalance to society(s) increasing narcissism and isolation. Witnessing what others need to be happy requires compassion and kindness, your head to be up, eyes forward, heart open … As I walk along Regent Street, I asked myself – aloud– waiting to cross Lensfield road, a rather simple question walking to class yesterday afternoon:
Can we openly allow ourselves to be nourished by a strangers kindness? If so, how deeply do we let it in?
Weaving through the arriviste crowd onto Hills Road, I turn a corner. Life goes on.
I love going on lazy walks (especially when its 60°F in December), and as strange and awkward as it may seem (those of you who know my true shy nature) I really enjoy sharing a smile, or a “good afternoon” to those passing along in the opposite direction. In Cambridge, when I pass along a favor of stepping aside for another cyclist, the hammering of their affectionately adorned brass cycling bell, ringing in my ears … When I smile and say “hello” to a group of walkers sauntering closer to me? I’m not sure if they feel awkward, shy, or are they simply not used to people sharing kindness?
Lost in the folds of these fleeting greetings, my awkwardness and whatever, the beauty of the gift slips out of their hands. This slight on their part, eats away at me, and my mind often travels to a dark area. Where each and every question I ask myself, diminishes my ability to share compassion and kindness. I feel guilty, I continue moving on with my head down. Life goes on.
A salve for my loneliness, my increasing isolation walking to yoga class along Union Road? Is taking a moment to pause, to seek out more opportunities to share compassion and kindness when the odium comes flying in my general direction.
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf-
You Dear Reader(s), help me up, when I’m feeling down – Each and every one of you make me feel alive! It has been an inspiring week and I hope each of you, every one of you, have a wonderful weekend!
I know how I feel having you in my life – I’m feeling good!
Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway-
Dear yoga studio,
Not long ago, I visited you after settling into your lovely city. This letter is nothing personal, it’s just that you remind me of who I am not: someone who is vain and self-centered.
To clarify, I’m not the least bit upset with the caring teacher(s) and the helpful staff. It’s just frustrating to be surrounded in a studio environment, by things I can’t stand, and embarrassing to acknowledge how I used to act that way.
My Saturday morning vinyasa flow “experience” also made me realize that I live in a world full of “things” I don’t love, and sometimes, its me.
Which makes me wish for one of two things this dreary Cambridge morning: to become a vain, “look at me yoga student” in a trendy studio, or to become more compassionate towards myself and those around me. And seeing I’m too cheap to play the lottery, I’m striving for compassion. Besides, I suspect that compassion is considerably more fulfilling than being sweaty and having a chiseled body (or so I tell myself in the mirror every morning).
Understand, I have nothing against your Lulu clad, and mirror adorned studio. And yes! It is possible to attend some classes without falling upon the hedonic treadmill that is egotism and vanity.
I guess what I’m just trying to say is, that I ache for a more nurturing and compassionate yoga studio environment. What seemingly began as a harshly toned letter, has gently evolved into a “Thank you” note.
Without the heart opening class in your studio, I never would have fully realized who I’m not: someone who needs to look “good” in order to feel good.
Sometimes I sit alone under the stars and think of the galaxies inside my heart and truly wonder if anyone will ever want to make sense of all that I am-
Tis the season for “thankfulness” posts, acts of appreciation and a warm glowing sensation of gratitude wafting in the chilly air outside. As if some magical switch is naturally flipped, our thoughts turn towards being grateful this Thanksgiving week. I have found myself thinking more about what loving kindness means, and how it relates to being “thankful” after a series of rather unusual events for me personally the past two weeks.
I’m lonely and saddened here in Cambridge, by the idea, that we change how we feel, in order to fit a superficial idea of what kindness and thankfulness should be during this time of the year. Kindness to me, is a light that shines from the inside, every day. Loving kindness is the warmth we share with others in a cold yoga studio or stopping to offer your only spare tube to another rider walking home in the pouring rain (thanks mate!). Kindness can also be the simple act of touching someone’s shoulder, gently reminding them they left their umbrella on the bus seat while traveling home. Kindness resides in our heart(s). Kindness, is living with a deep sense of gratitude, giving sincere “thanks.”
What if this Thanksgiving we pause to give thanks for the compassion and kindness that surrounds us?
When I’m able to do this? The loneliness that grips me will subside, and my true spirit will glow.