Practicing: Love

Every day is a blessing. Every day is unpredictable. Every day is complicated. Disheartening events in our own lives and other’s lives are part of the every day. It’s hard not to find ourselves somber at times. The world will continue to revolve–for it to continue on with love rather than hatred is up to us. We are part of something bigger than ourselves, we can inspire love, compassion, laughter, and light in each day and in each other.  The way we live our lives, treat others, and handle situations has boundless significance.

 

When I lived in Charlottesville, I became one of those runners beaming with a sense of community. Around every corner, we waved and at the top of each endless hill, we murmured good morning. The Yoga Sutras discuss the yama, ahimsa, meaning non-violence–physical violence and the violence of our words and thoughts. Each morning smile at a passerby, I was practicing ahmisa; running was my vehicle for instilling loving kindness.

 

The other day, a woman smiled at me as I walked through my neighborhood in DC after work. A genuine smile. One with sincerity and kindness. And I realized the stern, distant expression plastered on my face and on almost every other pedestrian. Living in the city, I hustle from gym to restaurant to metro with a hardened facade, never looking away from my phone or really meeting another’s gaze for too long. So concerned with our own matters and our own faced paced lives, we forget that the world is bigger than ourselves. I’d forgotten to smile. I’d forgotten my practice of ahimsa. I’d forgotten how powerful the compassion of a stranger’s smile can be.

 

Go out on Valentine’s Day, this day of love and every other day, and have a clear intention to act. To act with clarity and love and positivity. And remember Plato’s words, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

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Happy Valentine’s Day

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This Day

Bear with me as I try to piece together and articulate my innumerable  thoughts over the last few days. Given the events that happened in Connecticut, I along with most of the world, hold an immensely heavy heart and pained mind. My heart aches for the families and victims of Friday’s unfathomable tragedy and the inconsolable pain they are and will always be holding.

I spent my Saturday and Sunday at teacher training with a supportive, warming group of people. The positive elements of this environment almost compounded my anger, sadness, and disbelief. How can we sit in a room while horrific things are occurring? Why did is this happening? What can I do?

The enormity of this horror seemed so much bigger than our little room of yogic concepts and philosophy. We bridged the topic of the shooting a few times during our Sutra chapters and closing chanting. These increases in violence are lessons for humanity, teaching us compassion, and we are witnessing these messages of the necessity of love become more expounded. Our challenge is to be friendly towards the happy, be compassionate towards the unhappy, delight in the virtuous, and disregard the wicked. And on my journey as a yoga teacher, I can be a healer–instilling light, compassion, and positivity in my students and the world. That is what I can immediately do.

And yoga? It allows us to cope. We can breath through these calamities, settling the mind and its chaotic thoughts. It brings peace to our sympathetic nervous system. It allows us to overcome obstacles of the mind and the accompaniments of despair, distress, trembling, etc. Yoga fosters our authenticity, so that we can act and think according to our purpose. Leaving the world with our work each day, however we were meant to do that.

In the wake of this hate and sadness, give this day all of  your sincerity, peace, generosity, and love. We can use every bit of it.

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“Don’t ask yourself what the world needs. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go and do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

-Howard Thurman

Today.

Exhilaration. Sweat. Pride. Presence. Elation. Calm.

I left my power yoga class with each and every emotion. My heart was high and I was beaming.

As a runner, I know the endorphin high of a hard, strong run, one in which your legs feel sprightly and you cannot be restrained. I feel like a bad runner for saying this, but sometimes this high cannot be compared to that from a perfect yoga class. The feeling of not only strength and dedication but true elation, heart high and crown lifted to the greatest lengths.

Sometimes it takes a morning jaunt to the yoga studio, music that moves your heart, a fluid flow of asanas, a perfect intention, a palpable class energy, and an encouraging voice to give you this high. But it does happen.

Bundled  up in as much fleece as I could fit over my head, I spent my frigid walk home ingraining my intention for the day. I had dedicated my practice to being “Loving” and “Driven,” and I was determined to take that intention off my mat and into every fold of my day. To be honest, I actually have “today.” engraved on the back of my iPad, as a reminder to embody each second of today.

I’ll leave you with the dialogue of a particular TED talk which spoke to me,

“You think this is just another day in your life. It’s not just another day; it’s the one day that is given to you today.It’s given to you. It’s a gift. It’s the only gift that you have right now, and the only appropriate response is gratefulness. If you do nothing else but to cultivate that response to the great gift that this unique day is, if you learn to respond as if it were the first day of your life, and the very last day, then you will have spent this day very well.”

How will you spend your day?

What made today unique?