Monday, August 12, 2013

Why Not?

I recently walked by a woman leisurely reading a pop-culture magazine as she gently sat in a white wicker rocker moving slowly back and forward. It was on a particularly hot afternoon during the July heat wave. It wouldn’t have been something to even note except for the fact that this scene took place in an outdoor furniture display area at the supermarket Stop and Shop. Her shopping cart was patiently parked about a foot away in recess from the initial task at hand. The scene caused me to grin and I next stopped to congratulate her on her brilliance. With the heat it made perfect sense to spend some time reading in an air conditioned setting. She explained that as she walked by pushing her groceries the display looked so inviting that she thought, “Why not?” I was inspired by several elements of this scenario. First, that she was able to be so in the moment that she temporarily divorced herself from the task of grocery shopping to indulge in some rest and relaxation. Second, she gave herself something she needed and wanted without stopping with excuses as to why she shouldn’t go forward with it. Third, she didn’t care where she was, who saw her or how it might look. She followed her feelings, took care of herself and reveled in self-care in a way that was with effort, yet effortless. The episode was the ultimate example in the FUN of self-care. Not everything needs to be planned out and orchestrated to the ninth degree. Bravo to being present, indulging in some rest and relaxation and just stopping long enough to be a human being instead of a human doing . After all….why not?!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

A whole different world right in front of my (our?) eyes

A few weeks back I was out of town visiting friends. I awoke before them and, although I’m a tea drinker in the morning, I wanted to make coffee for them so it would be ready when they got up. I looked in, what I believed to be, all the usual spots where people might store coffee: the cupboard above where the coffee maker sat, the cabinet underneath, the refrigerator and the freezer. Feeling perplexed I then, I thought, very systematically, looked in every kitchen orifice I could find searching for anything that resembled coffee. I wasn’t dramatic. I felt I was being present and thoughtful—both in the endeavor at hand and in my intention. I failed at the task at but decided to relax in the semi-confusion of it. I let it go. About an hour later when my dear friend awoke and I found her in the kitchen—making coffee, I told her that I had wanted to prepare it but failed to find where they stored the coffee. She just looked at me in the way she has since we were both 13 years old and I told her that the only way I was allowed to go out and watch the 8th grade basketball game (a very cool thing to do when you are in the 8th grade, by the way) is if my father attended with me. (Not so cool, in case you were wondering.) I guess the look is a combination of compassion, incredulousness and semi-shock. Then she responded to me that the coffee was stored directly next to the coffee maker, in a tall, white canister that is (clearly) marked with the word: COFFEE. Things like this happen to me more than I’d like to admit. I tend to be better at the challenging, not-so-right-in-front-of-my-eyes stuff than, well, the obvious. For years I’d beat myself, get immersed in the embarrassment and laugh it off with others, but deep inside actually feel shame sprinkled with some anger toward self, and humiliation too. The practice of ahimsa—Sanskrit for non-violence-is the part of my yoga practice that has provided me with the biggest shift, because it’s the biggest challenge. It starts with non-violence toward self. Just like trying to find the stash of coffee, being really kind to myself and having compassion around learning me—what makes me tic and currently do things as I do them—might be right in front of me but seemingly beyond my grasp. While I would immediately want to relieve the suffering of someone else, I would marinate in my own angst over something I did or didn’t do…for hours and days. Through my practice , I slowly learn there is room for all the feelings to process through and even some room left over to hone the gift of my own sense of humor, allowing me to laugh over me and what’s obviously right in front of my eyes…that sometimes I just can’t easily see. I learn my own true nature circumspectly, and that’s okay. Everyone has at least one story, just like mine. And I know from the work that I do that many are also not so kind to themselves as they maneuver through a situation. In the Yoga Sutras of Pantanjali, he writes in the second chapter, sutra 35: “In the presence of one firmly established in non-violence, all hostilities cease.” If each and every one of us started to be kinder and gentler with just ourselves right now, what might the world feel like a month, year and decade from now? Is a whole different world right in front of our eyes…there for the taking, with jut a little more humanity to and for ourselves? An extraordinary and non-rhetorical question to discuss with further practice.