During the month of May we celebrate Mother’s Day. It is a time when we honor our biological, adopted and surrogate mothers. It is a time when we remember the incredible and awesome nature of the “mother spirit.” Whether it is in the animal kingdom or the family of human beings, most mothers are fierce protectors of their young. They intuitively know when something is happening with their child. I was always amazed when my mother tuned right into me. This wasn’t always good news for me, but it most certainly reminded me that we were connected in an extraordinary way.
Pretty grand statement, I know. And perhaps other people say that, too. I guess depending on where you are in life or what you happen to be going through, there are a lot of things that can save your life. A good book could do it, a sign from the universe or maybe even a strong martini. But when I say that yoga saved my life, I mean it truly came into my life during one of the darkest moments I had ever experienced and gave me back my desire to really live — fully and entirely.
A few years back, I found myself completely paralyzed with anxiety. I couldn’t go to work, drive my car or even leave my house without a potential panic attack. This anxiety made me angry. It made me resentful. But most of all, it made me an entirely different person. I became a shell of what I used to be. A lot of people thought I’d stay that way. Full disclosure: I thought I’d stay that way too.
I know that the moment you read this title, “Finding the Goodness in Life,” some of you cringed. Why? Because there is a lot going on at this point in time that would not be considered “good.” But what if, in everything, goodness existed?
I once had a client who was contemplating suicide. They did not see any reason for living and could find nothing in their life that was worthwhile. Every week, I prayed that this person would continue to show up and work with me.
It is light in the darkest night. It brings people to their knees. It is symbolic and powerful, yet proof-less and criticized. It illuminates life and it wages war. It escapes some and captivates many. To some it is doctrine, to others it is fiction. It is faith.
Today’s definition of faith doesn’t have to relate to religion; it can be trust or belief in something without proof. But in today’s society, the invisible creates disbelief. People lack faith in all areas of their lives because they are looking for evidence. They are waiting for the ideal job, the perfect relationship and financial abundance. They are looking for something tangible — and as a result, they are still waiting. When the answer doesn’t fall into their laps they become cynical and they lose faith.
If this rings a bell, don’t worry. There are ways to find faith in your daily life.
In the practice of yoga, as in life, it’s the moments when we work together that can inspire the most change in us as individuals. In this clip, Jenny Sauer-Klein, co-founder of AcroYoga, talks about the principle of doing what works. To deal with the inevitable challenges and miscommunications that happen when individuals become partners, we have to leave room for the unexpected. When we let go of assumptions and embrace the discovery of what works best between these two people at this moment, that’s when we allow the relationship — and each other — to grow.
There is no rush, there is only now. Tapping into patience.
I haven’t written in the past ten days. Writer’s block, stuck in a rut, loss of inspiration … you name it. I’ve come to terms with the fact that my writing usually happens when I write from a place of inspiration and peace, instead of fear and must.
In the past year, something has shifted within me. It is both confusing and wonderful. I cannot put my finger on exactly what is going on, but it seems to be happening in just the right way. One of my favorite quotes is by Arthur Rubinstein: “There are no formulas for living the life you secretly dream about, because if you simply accept and welcome life, it’ll reveal itself to you.”
We all need it, we all have it, we all draw from it, we all seek it, and without it there is nothing left: hope.
The ability to persevere comes from inside — it is a part of you. When life throws you a curveball, when your path becomes a grinding mountain instead of a downhill glide, when there seems there is no way out, you must draw from your inner well of hope.
Whether to fulfill our goals or to fight to survive, we all draw from our same inner supply of hope. It is the first thing we should teach our children. Hope is a necessary component of survival and as sweet as hoping for a shiny red bicycle for Christmas.
I was thinking about hope this week and what it means to our lives. When I looked up the definition of hope, here is what came forward: The feeling that what is wanted can be had or that events will turn out for the best; A person or thing in which expectations are centered; to look forward with desire and reasonable confidence.
The definition reminded me that hope can be attached to a feeling and therefore can be affected by emotion. “I hope things turn out okay.” “I hope that I will be understood.” “I hope my family will be okay.” It dawned on me that when I am hoping, I am looking into the future. There is a desire to be supported, but not an assuredness that everything will fall into place. Somehow there is a little kernel of doubt that things might not work out in a powerful way.
Hope. It has been described to me as a strategy for freedom, a trajectory of love, a means of healing and a way of being. Except it seems lately that “hope” is actually a diversion from trusting myself — from knowing what I can do. We humans use hope as a perfectly rational way of staying far away from real trust and knowing, by “hoping” things will work out. Could we replace hope with knowing, and effectively clear the way to our dreams?
I don’t like being upside down and backwards. This makes Handstand a challenge for me. I don’t trust that my fellow students can hold me steady while I substitute my hands for feet. It’s a reflection of my own limited thinking, not an accurate assessment of their competence.
Still, I try. I go to class and work gradually. First, I achieved Headstand, which I couldn’t do a year ago. It’s a stepping-stone to the loftier goal of Handstand.
Yoga is always putting new challenges in our paths. Just when we think we have achieved a difficult asana, we discover that it was the modified version. It taught me to give up hope.