This is one of my favorites by Pema Chodron…
“In life we think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem. The real truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together for a time, then they fall back apart. Then they come together and fall apart again. It’s just like that.
Personal discovery and growth come from letting there be room for all this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
Suffering comes from wishing things were different. Misery is self-inflicted, when we are expecting the “idea” to overcome the “actual,” or needing things (or people, or places) to be different for us so we can then be happy.
Let the hard things in life break you. Let them effect you. Let them change you. Let those hard moments inform you. Let this pain be your teacher. The experiences of your life are trying to tell you something about yourself. Don’t cop out on that. Don’t run away and hide under your covers. Lean in to it.
What is the lesson in the wind? What is the storm trying to tell you? What will you learn if you face it with courage? With full honesty and – lean in to it.”
By request, I’m posting this poem by Danna Faulds. I’d like to add that I’m thankful for all of my students who put up with my inspirational reading, writing, and sharing — it’s joyous for me! It is my hope that choices and the power of words will be the platform and impetus for transformation and going deeper into the practice of yoga. Namaste all!
Let go of the ways you thought life would unfold; the holding of plans or dreams or expectation – Let it all go.
Save your strength to swim with the tide. The choice to fight what is here before you now will only result in struggle, fear, and desperate attempts to flee from the very energy you long for. Let go.
Let it all go and flow with the grace that washes through your days whether you receive it gently or with all your quills raised to defend against invaders.
Take this on faith; the mind may never find the explanations that it seeks, but you will move forward nonetheless.
Let go, and the wave’s crest will carry you to unknown shores, beyond your wildest dreams or destinations.
Let it all go and find the place of rest and peace, and certain transformation.
~by Heinrich Boll
One summer, many years ago, a banker was vacationing in a small village on the coast. He saw a fisherman in a small boat by the pier with a handful of fish that he’d just caught. The businessman asked him how long it took him to catch the fish and the man said he was out on the water for only a couple of hours.
“So why didn’t you stay out there longer to catch more fish?” asked the businessman.
The fisherman said he catches just enough to feed his family every day, and then comes back.
“But it’s only 2 pm!” said the banker, “What do you do with the rest of your time?”
The fisherman smiled and said, “Well, I sleep late every day, then fish a little, go home, play with my children, take a nap in the afternoon, then stroll into the village each evening with my wife, relax, play the guitar with our friends, laugh and sing late into the night. I have a full and wonderful life.”
The banker scoffed at the young man, “Well, I’m a businessman from New York! Let me tell you what you should do instead of wasting your life like this! You should catch more fish to sell to others, and then buy a bigger boat with the money you make so you can catch even more fish!”
“And then what?” asked the fisherman. The banker’s eyes got all big as he enthusiastically explained, “You can then buy a whole fleet of fishing boats, run a business, and make a ton of money!”
“And then what?” asked the fisherman again, and the banker threw his hands in the air and said, “You’d be worth a million! You can then leave this small town, move to the city, and manage your enterprise from there!”
“How long would all this take?” asked the fisherman. “Fifteen to twenty years!” replied the banker.
“And then what?”
The banker laughed and said, “That’s the best part. You can then sell your business, move to a small village, sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take naps in the afternoon, go for an evening stroll with your wife after dinner, relax, sing, and play the guitar with your friends. You would have a full and wonderful life!”
The fisherman smiled at the banker, quietly gathered his catch, and walked away.
An Affirmation for Today
I like to practice voluntary simplicity to counter such impulses and make sure nourishment comes at a deep level. It involves intentionally doing only one thing at a time and making sure I am here for it…Voluntary simplicity means going fewer places in one day rather than more, seeing less so I can see more, doing less so I can do more, acquiring less so I can have more…Within the organized chaos and complexity of family life and work, with all their demands and responsibilities, frustrations and unsurpassed gifts, there is ample opportunity for choosing simplicity in small ways.
Slowing everything down is a big part of this. Telling my mind and body to stay put with my daughter rather than answering the phone, not reacting to inner impulses to call someone who “needs calling” right in that moment, choosing not to acquire new things on impulse, or even to automatically answer the siren call of magazines or television or movies on the first ring are all ways to simplify one’s life a little…
A commitment to simplicity in the midst of the world is a delicate balancing act. It is always in need of retuning, further inquiry, attention. But I find the notion of voluntary simplicity keeps me mindful of what is important, of an ecology of mind and body and world in which everything is interconnected and every choice has far-reaching consequences. You don’t get to control it all. But choosing simplicity whenever possible adds to life an element of deepest freedom which so easily eludes us, and many opportunities to discover that less may actually be more.”
From: Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn (1994, published by Hyperion, New York, pp. 68 – 70)
In a yoga class, the practice of Yoga Mudra shifts focus from the outward body-centric movements to an inward experience of quiet space. You deepen this inner focus in the Yoga Nidra practice. For many, this may be a first glimpse of a non-enhanced selfie.
To cultivate pratyahara you can:
-Practice the pause a day before clicking “BUY” or a few hours before responding to a text/tweet/email, or a few minutes before ordering dessert.
– Practice keeping your gaze soft, thus adopting an attitude of receptivity instead of a narrow focus which makes you more critical.
-Use breath awareness as an early warning system to nip unwelcome emotions in the bud, by mindfully slowing and deepening your breath when you notice it become tight and shallow.
-Commit to gifting yourself a few minutes a day to sit in silence with your eyes closed, your breath deeply comfortable, and your thoughts positive.
Practicing pratyahara helps you to hear the whispering of your innate intelligence. The more trust you place on your internal guidance, the less external input is needed to feel satisfied in who you are.
Sandi Merrill is an everywoman who stumbled upon yoga 20+ years ago. After some “taste-testing,” she found joy in the Integral Yoga tradition. She is honored and blessed to be able to share the teachings of Sri Swami Satchidananda. Yoga teacher training uplifted her life. Today, she is one of the lead trainers for the Integral Yoga 200-hour Teacher Training when she isn’t globetrotting with her newly retired hubby.
― Louisa May Alcott
I found this quote quite profound after reading it recently. The sheer simplicity of this notion and how it sums up what life is really all about. We spend time (around occasions) actively accumulating. Perhaps that time would be better spent cultivating. What are your treasures?