The Buddha said, “I am not enlightened, I am merely awake.” What does it mean to be awake? Most of us spend our lives in relative states of “un-consciousness.” Sometimes we undergo a big, dramatic, once-in-a-lifetime awakening—such as a near-death experience—or we can occasionally experience subtler awakenings, such as hearing a story that resonates deep in our beings and creates a shift in consciousness.
When I take a few moments in the beginning of the day for myself, it makes all the difference. Instead of spiraling into stress, I float forward with ease and a bit of enthusiasm. Contrary to popular belief, dedication to a yoga and self-care practice doesn’t need to take hours of your time. When you need it, a simple ten minutes can point you in the right direction. Approach your day with a smile and one or more of these practices:
Life is the living art of balance. Balance is a beautiful concept, rooted in the exquisite imagery of Yin and Yang. For most of us, the attempt at balance is more like a circus act of hither and thither, with multiple moving parts flying about our worlds in an unpredictable and mysterious way. As we all strive for our perfectly expressed version of “just the right amount,” it’s important to remember a few essential things to the practice of balance.
Last time I went to the airport, I saw a small boy with his hands and cheeks up against a large glass window. He watched the planes take off over and over again with a look of awe smudged across his face. His reflection held a sense of luminous possibility, as if he realized he could fly too. I stood there, tired and anxious to get to on my flight, witnessing something magical.
We are always looking to find the magic bullet—the thing that will fix everything for all time. What would be the fun in that? Where is the mastery and challenge in life when we just want to do something once and be done with it? We are always wanting to check things off the list. It’s part of being human. So how do we drop into commitments, and doing something better for ourselves? We must commit, but then recommit by making our new habits bulletproof.
Of the many wonderful things I’ve learned through my yoga practice, some of the best have come from exploring poses and theories that scare me. For some of these poses, the fear has risen up and I’ve acknowledged it, without the need to delve deeper at that time. For others, I’ve moved past the fear with the desire to take up the challenge it presents.
Yoga is such a gift to all those that have the opportunity to be touched by its unique and special gifts. Opportunity here is the keyword, as yoga is truly a privileged experience that isn’t available to all. There are many individuals and communities of people that, for various reasons, won’t ever be exposed to the healing potential of this practice. This past week, when teaching a yoga class to a group of at-risk, sixth-grade students at a low-income elementary school, I realized just how important it was to gift the experience of yoga to these kinds of groups.
You only live once, creating a model of not enough time — a poverty of time. With a sense of so little time, we become scattered, searching to always have the right answers, the right car, the right job, the right yoga practice, and the right pose.
The spring equinox ushers in the beginning of spring. Signs of warmer days to come are already lapping at the shores. Tiny blades of green grass and little flowers are showing their curious faces. They are poking up from the once-cold earth that is now warming under the rising heat from longer days beneath the sun. It is the season of blooming and becoming and a time for looking at what is coming forth in you.
Have you ever decided to do something momentous, and had no idea what you were jumping into: launching a career, getting married, having a baby, or—even writing a book?