Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Go with the flow…

…I say that all the time in class.
I take the seat of the teacher and I talk about the choppy waters of life and how fighting the current of fear and delusion will only lead to frustration. I certainly believe it to be true but somehow I find myself treading in dark, murky waters over and over again; fighting the fearful currents with all my might.

The reality is that there are are so many people in this world who must navigate far more treacherous waters than any I have had to face. They must actually fight for each precious drop of life. So why is it that I continue to struggle in the flow of my very sweet life? Why do I find myself frustrated by tsunamis of self-doubt initiated by other people’s careless words and fears?

Someone very wise recently told me that we only begin to develop self-confidence when we can cultivate the ability to overcome delusions and lose the ignorance of ego. Adding that we mustn’t fear darkness as it is a much grander truth than the flowers that easily bloom in the warmth of the sun.

I think about these words as I look up at an overcast night sky. It seems empty and thick and dreary; but as I continue to watch, I see a glimmer of light, and soon enough the dark clouds part, and starlight comes beaming through, offering a hint of the Divine. I understand that the stars were always there -- maybe it was simply my ego that blocked the view.

One night, while on retreat in Mexico, I jumped fearlessly into the warmth of the ocean while those very same stars twinkled above me. I think about how comforting it felt to rest on the surface of the dark and soothing sea as the stars offered tiny beacons of hope.
Gentle waves rocked me effortlessly to shore.
I felt safe and courageous.
All I had to do was go with the flow.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Believe it or not

Not long ago I received a lovely text message from my daughter. She was in Vermont snowboarding, and felt compelled to say she loved and missed me. It made me feel really warm and happy --- my heart was smiling and overflowing with pure love.

Minutes later (really), I received an email from someone who felt equally compelled to send a laundry list of some of my most unpleasant qualities. I was so shocked, and so wounded, I actually cried.

Now I’m sure you’re thinking that I would know better than to dwell on negative and judgmental statements, and instead focus on the lovely text from my sweet, beautiful daughter -- especially because of my many years of practicing and teaching yoga, and the fact that this person doesn’t know me very well.

Apparently, not so much. It took me days to shake that awful, anxious pit in my stomach. No matter if the negative comments were true or not, it was my choice to attach to them, and, as a result, suffer. It wasn’t the sender that caused the suffering, it was me.

We always have the choice to be happy. I chose to stay attached to the unskillful judgments of another, and linger in the resulting negative emotions. But those words could only hurt me if I allowed them to. I didn’t have to read them, believe them, or hold them in my heart.

I suppose it’s our human nature to yearn to always be right and always be loved. But my yogic nature was nudged awake by this recent episode, and I realized that while I won’t always be right or always loved, it’s okay. I am responsible for my own happiness, and, I am for sure the root cause of my own suffering.

So I saved the text and deleted the email. I‘ve decided not to suffer; I’ve decided I’d much rather be the cause of my own happiness.

May all beings be happy and free!