Look Backwards to Find Gratitude Forwards

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Sometimes we need to take a look at what the universe is offering us. Three seemingly unrelated moments that occurred recently, when looked at together, offered me a very clear message. We can live more truly in the present when we gain perspective from the past. I found this quote by Kierkegaard that I shared with my classes last week, “Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards”

The first moment came a couple of weeks ago when I received news from the vet that our family dog,  a dog my husband and I got as a puppy 15 years ago….3 weeks before we were even husband and wife, is dying. She is at the point where it is time to go and we are saying our last goodbyes. As I reflected back on all of the adventures the three of us shared, from coast to coast and back again in 3 states, six homes, adding 2 children along the way, I realized that the person who picked her up as an 8 week old puppy is very different from the one writing this blog post today.  I have gained wisdom, gratitude and a deeper connection to my body, mind, heart and spirit since then. Yoga has been a big part of that journey.

Then as I was cleaning out some things I stumbled upon an old journal of mine where the last entry was written 9 years ago almost to the day I found it again. I was writing it from the perspective of a new mom of an 8 month old who had decided not to go back to work in advertising.  In that entry I wrote “I am searching for who I am going to be now. I am lucky to have this opportunity but it overwhelms me” Two months later I became a Yoga teacher and began on the path to the person I am today.

Then last week I received a request for my bio from a new studio where I am beginning to teach. As I reviewed the bio I had written only a couple of years ago, I was struck with the realization that even in that reasonably short time, I had more to say…more to add…that my journey had taken me a long way even since then.

Yoga Philosophy is deeply rooted in the concept of being Present. The practice of Living in the Moment and not being distracted with the clutter of thoughts, worries and concerns from the past or what might be coming in the future. However, at the same time, sometimes it helps us live more gratefully and presently in the moment when we realize just how far we have come, whether in a short time, a long time or both.

I asked my classes last week to look at their practice and their lives in the context of how far they have come on their personal journey both on and off the mat. I asked them to pay no matter to how long or short their individual yoga journey has been. Instead, to connect fully to the acknowledgment  and the gratefulness of where they were in that particular moment by looking backwards.

Half Moon (Ardha Chandrasana)  was the pose we used to practice our focus for the week. The moon represents mind, imagination, emotion, sensitivity, and the natural ebb and flow of life. Half Moon pose challenges us to hang in space and reflect the light around us so that we shine steadily, even when our skies are dark. It also divides the body’s efforts equally between balance and strength.  We explored Half Moon fully; with no hands, arms stretched forward, bound and open. We challenged ourselves to enter it in different ways, and then to live in it and accept where we were in it. We used it to help remind ourselves to stay open and light while grounded and focused; to learn from our past practice how to live more fully in the present.

As I watched my students enter mindfully into Savasana and listened as they let go of their breath and found stillness in their bodies, I once again reflected on my own path. I remembered bringing my puppy home to our 1 bedroom apartment. I will never forget the feeling of my 8 month old daughter in my arms and I still felt intimately connected with who I was when I wrote that bio 2 years ago. I realized I am that same person and a different one all at once. I have journeyed deeper and I am so grateful for the opportunity to continue on that Journey.  I felt the poignant sadness at saying goodbye to a loyal companion. I felt a deep gratitude for the opportunity to truly live in the present moment by connecting to the past.  And I  felt an inner joyfulness for all that is to come next. 

Goodbye Kelsey. We will always love you.

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