This precious life…


Nothing LackingI am officially on ‘maternity leave’, this being the first week for many (nearly a year) where my faithful private Yoga student hasn’t come by at 4:30pm 3 days/week. In his absence, I feel to share what he shared with me about a week ago.

He told me that day that after our last session together he was at home in the kitchen (“where all great epiphanies happen”, he quipped), when he had had ‘A Moment’. He’d felt a very deep sense of OK-ness, that everything was just right with the world, exactly as and how it should be. He’s a pretty chilled guy so this kind of understanding is not new to him, but he hadn’t felt it like that for a while.

And while the experience passed, as all experiences do, it had left behind a fragrance that lingered for a few days afterwards.

It had brought him perspective, a vantage point from which to see more clearly the subtle yet pervasive anxiety that he’d been operating under of late. Despite all that he knew, he’d been feeling a lot of stress.

This sharing really touched me for 2 reasons:

1) It brought home the true purpose and power of the practice of Yoga.

And that is… mindfulness. Presence. More moments like the one I’ve described. Less grasping, less controlling, more trust, and more peace. Ultimately, a happier life.

As many times a day, in as many situations, this going away, and coming back. Coming back to the sensation of your feet on the ground, the breath in your belly. Noticing what and how you feel, and letting it be. Draining the soup of thoughts in your mind and noticing something that is actually happening. A bird’s call. Cold air on your cheek. The sway of a tree outside your window.

As his ‘teacher’ I sometimes felt concerned by the lack of physical progress that we were making, but this sharing reminded me again that that is not always the point.

2) I’m now more than 37 weeks pregnant.

Side bendWhat I can manage physically is getting less and less. My belly is huge, my hands are puffy and my wrists are really sore. It takes much less time on my mat before I run out of both juice and options. Less is most definitely more!

But there is something that is mine no matter what. Something that can never be taken away. And it’s this Returning. My ability to come back. To come home to whatever and however I’m feeling. To embrace the current reality with my whole heart and soul. To let it be OK. To accept. To just be.

And while all this might seem very rudimentary it’s also really not. It’s profound.

And standing as I am on the threshold of parenthood this feels key.

Yoga, and life, keep on teaching me this One Big Thing. That there is freedom to be found in the seemingly worst of circumstances if I use that challenge to let go. To forgive myself. Accept myself. To embrace life exactly as it’s showing up.

Happiness and Suffering are simply choices we make.

I heard a story once about spiritual teacher Byron Katie visiting a cancer patient in hospital. The woman was angry and miserable. Byron Katie asked her what was the problem. She pulled back her bedsheets to reveal one swollen leg, almost twice the size of the other. “This,” she spat, “this is my problem!”. Katie smiled and said, “So your problem is that you believe that both your legs should be the same size?”

The woman instantly got it and apparently roared with laughter, and the sudden, new-found realisation that really her problem was not her leg, but her inability to accept it.

So I’m looking down at my chubby little fingers, all tingly and sore and numb, and I’m thinking that maybe everything’s OK with the world, that it’s all just as and how it needs to be. That actually my hands are podgy because there’s about 50% more fluid in my body these days to support the totally radical business of growing a child in my womb!

Acceptance and complacency are not the same thing. But we know that already right? We’ve always got to do what we can, as I already have, to try and improve or alleviate our situation. But sometimes there’s no outright cure, and we just need to live with something (for a while at least).

It sucks to be in pain. We’d all take health and harmony any day of the week. But sometimes they’re elusive, and Reality is just screaming for us to let Her be as She is. To lean in a bit closer so she can whisper Her wisdom into our unsuspecting ear.

“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes.
If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed.
Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding,
the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birdwings.”  ~ Rumi

Om Namo Narayani