“Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark.” ~George Iles
When you run a yoga studio, you hear it all. From the annoyingly trivial (“So and so was in my spot!”) to the enormously overwhelming (“I’ve been diagnosed with cancer.”). Some of the stories I’ve heard over the years are so powerful and transcendent, they’ve reached into my life and left an indelible imprint of hope. This is one of those stories:
Her limbs twisted by muscular dystrophy, she wandered in and unrolled her yoga mat. I was concerned — mine is a rigorous class, and I wanted to protect her without making a spectacle. It’s a line every teacher walks with any new student, but her circumstances had me feeling more conflicted about how hands on or off I should be than usual.
The day my mother died, I was hoping for something, anything, to help alleviate my incredible pain and overwhelming sense of loss. I was also hoping that Mom was finally at peace. A Facebook post around the same time revealed that a friend of mine was hoping fervently for something as well: that she would find just the right shoes to match her new dress.
At first, it seemed so cruel and unfair to me that I was hoping for something so crucial while she was free to hope for something that seemed so insignificant to me.
Hope: We hear it all the time. Heck, we say it all the time: “I hope I get the job!” or “I hope I make the cut!” or “I hope things work out!” The word “hope” adorns T-shirts, jewelry and bumper stickers everywhere. Our president even based an entire campaign on the notion.
So, hoping … is that all we’ve got?
A few weeks ago I gave a talk entitled “Leap and the Net Will Appear.” I want to begin with the fact that “something in you is always calling you to dive into your greatness.” Once you do, you will discover that you have always been amazing, talented, unique, powerful, expansive, abundant and destined to live an incredible life. On some level, we always know this. The challenge is getting to a place where we leap no matter what we are currently experiencing. Here are three things to contemplate when it comes to hoping for a better life and taking chances.
Hope is a feeling, an internal movement. If seen in its proper context, hope is part of the light of joy and love that is constantly shining through and illuminating the beauty of life — the awesome dance in which we take part. There is no need to feed it or hang on to it as a distraction or a promise. Instead, strive to see it in context with all of the present moment’s thoughts and sensations. It is but a broken branch floating in the middle of the river of the Tao that we can hang on to only momentarily; however, it must not become the totality of our reality.
Hope, expectation, anticipation, the desire for a certain outcome. Hope is what moves us forward, motivates us and keeps our faith strong during the hard times. Hope is essential for our existence; yet there are times — when the world seems to be in a state of chaos — when it is easy to wonder where hope is.
In thinking about hope and how to find it in our world, I realized that for me, hope comes from my yoga practice and my kids, as both remind me on a constant basis that hope dwells within us, not outside of ourselves, and that in order to tap into that wellspring of hope, it is essential to find the peace within to let hope blossom.
It’s raining. The tears are streaming from my glass panes and I cannot see clearly. I knew there was a forecast for difficult conditions, but I wasn’t expecting this downpour.
It’s not the unpredictable that I don’t like. Give me sun, snow, rain or wind, and I can stand tall and adjust my layers accordingly. Any element that surprises me is just another opportunity to show strength, perseverance and flexibility.
Big wads of plastic in the ocean that stretch for miles and disintegrating polar ice caps are the kind of news stories that tend to make us feel hopeless regarding conservation efforts. Why bother to change our light bulbs to compact fluorescents if our planet’s imminent demise is a speeding train that can’t be stopped?
The reason we have these feelings is probably the work of environmentalists themselves. They’re sending the wrong messages, if you ascribe to the new field of neuro-conservation.
Instead of focusing the spotlight on results of scientific studies that prove our planet is rapidly warming, or on statistics about alarming species extinction rates, they should be talking about how an ocean view will make us feel happy or standing among trees will arouse our feelings of peacefulness.
After all, selling us emotions is what marketing professionals have been doing for decades. They know that we don’t just buy a car; we buy how that car makes us feel — wealthier, greener or more in control. Using the tenets of neuro-conservation may just be the boost that environmentalists need to gain support for their causes in a world that’s overrun with more scientific data than we know what to do with — or pay attention to.
In the spring of 2007, after the birth of my second beautiful daughter, I relapsed from the eating disorder and severe depression I suffered with in college.
After six months of draining the lives of so many family and friends, I decided to receive intensive therapy once and for all. I was losing my husband, alienating friends and family members and spending days and weeks inside the house. I had two little girls to take care of and I could barely take care of myself.
Happy birthday, Earth Day!
Today, people all over the planet will be out celebrating our great, green planet! Earth Day, a day that is usually void of the doom and gloom that can sometimes bog down even the most optimistic greenie, will see folks from all corners of the world and all walks of life convening to honor the planet that provides us with water, air, food … with life! Today, communities will burst forth with music, art, films, local and organic food, environmental education and friendships and partnerships will grow.