Gratitude and Generosity

So, it’s December. Already. A_yogi_seated_in_a_garden

After a prolonged illness during which I spent much of September, all of October, and most of November bedridden, I have emerged, having missed an entire season and feeling a bit out of it, among other things.

As I readjust and reacquaint myself with life beyond the confines of my increasingly-uncomfortable-the-longer-I-spent-in-it bed, I am filled with a sense of gratitude. I had never been incapacitated that long, and while I am grateful for my good health now, I am also retroactively grateful for all the good health I’ve enjoyed much of my life.

When I was a young teenager, my sister-in-law, the mother of my two toddler nephews, became suddenly ill with a heart condition that necessitated more than one heart transplant, multiple hospital stays, and a lifetime since of precarious health. At the time, as an inexperienced kid, I was simply incapable of understanding what it must have been like for her to be so ill at a time when her children so desperately needed her. Though I understood the situation was dire and difficult, I did not comprehend fully the emotional turmoil that she and her husband and children must have been experiencing.

My experience pales in comparison to the severity of the situation of my sister-in-law, but I did spend a lot of time thinking about her as I recovered. Being sick is hard. Watching someone you love suffer through illness is hard. Being incapable of caring for your young child is excruciating.

I think it is also hard to be honest about just how miserable we are, so great is the pressure to “stay positive” and “get well soon”. Modern society tends to be uncomfortable with discomfort, with dis-ease, with any forced reminder to be in our bodies, vulnerable as they are. And so we tritely tell folks to focus on the positive and to take good care, reassuring them it will all be better soon.

I have certainly done this with others and I caught myself doing it to myself as well. The first few weeks in bed were spent in disbelief and irritation that I was sick at all. The next few weeks in anger. Finally, as I was forced to accept help and generosity from those who love me most, I was able to feel some compassion and empathy for my own suffering. I could see these things in the eyes and feel it in the hands of those who showed up to care for me. Seeing how willing they were to bear my pain and to hold my hand through it, without saying the things you’re supposed to say, I was finally able to accept what was happening.

It feels impossible to fully express my gratefulness for this lesson and for the people who showed up to teach it to me. It feels impossible to fully describe their selfless giving of spirit, heart, and time. And in this season of thankfulness and sharing I am filled to the brim with both my own gratitude and their generosity. I am grateful to have been forced, once again, to inhabit my body fully and to find acceptance there. I am grateful for the humans who surround me with their love. I am grateful for lessons learned. I am newly aware of how generous life is in its ability to constantly surprise and teach us. I am present to the generosity and kindness that exists in the world.

There are no greater gifts I could ask for this holiday season.

Wishing you and yours a holiday season filled with gratitude and generosity, dear yogis. Namaste.

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They Grow So Fast

In just a few days, Samdhana-Karana Yoga will be celebrating two years of making Yoga accessible and available to persons of all incomes and abilities.  My heart swells with joy and pride and immense gratitude and I am so pleased to see my first “baby” thriving.

It is hard to believe that two years have passed since my co-founder and I opened our doors, brimming with hope and anxiety and unbridled passion, praying fervently that our community would embrace a non-profit Yoga studio. Embrace it they have and I am once again reminded of the immense rewards that come from being willing to take risks, to fail, and to learn lessons the hard way.

It is only when we are willing to fail that we learn not only what we are truly capable of, but how willing others are to join in to help us succeed. Samdhana-Karana Yoga is thriving today, not because of the vision that Pamela and I had, but because of the students and community members who have supported that vision.

So, thank you to all of my students, all of the folks in Tacoma, WA and beyond who’ve shared the yoga love, and especially to Pamela and Kate who keep my baby alive and well so I can enjoy watching it grow from afar.

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti.

 

Tis the Season

Happy Holidays my dear yogis and yoginis!          

This is the time of year when we are meant to slow down a bit and focus on the things that truly matter: family, friends, sharing good food and drink, gratitude, joy, peace and goodwill towards all. Of course, it doesn’t always turn out that way. Sometimes the holidays have the opposite of the intended effect and can bring out the worst in people. Isn’t it funny how the very things and people that can bring us so much enjoyment can also be the source of so much anxiety?

The great thing, though, about the holidays, is that they happen every year, so every year is an opportunity to be our best selves. Focusing on gratitude, joy, peace and goodwill throughout the entire year is a pretty good way of ensuring that when the holidays roll around, we will already be in the swing of things. Waiting until November to start is a bit like beginning training for a marathon the week before you’re supposed to run.

Yoga is such great training for this marathon of life. Through our practice we learn to let go, experience joy, cultivate patience, feel gratitude, and create peace. We focus all of these good things inwards first, so that we can then go out into the world and exude them in our lives.

So for this holiday season I wish for you to be filled with gratitude for all the good in your life; to experience immense joy; to discover an inner peace that melts away all anxiety and frustrations; and to feel that warm sensation of compassion and goodwill towards all.

Many blessings to you and yours.

Om Shanti Om