Last week I happened to be in a sunny beachy place with my family which was a welcome respite from all of the unrelenting cold of this winter. As I stepped on to the beach our first day, I felt huge gratitude. I was enjoying the feeling of the warm soft sand under my feet so I decided to try it between my hands. That is the photo you see, hands in the sand and toes trying to touch the sun.
It was a very relaxing and fun trip and throughout I was waiting for my inspiration to come. It arrived the last evening of our vacation. After dinner, we hopped in a taxi to take us back to our hotel and as I was entering the taxi I noticed a large sticker that covered the back windshield. During the 5 minute taxi ride back I was trying to discern the sentence that was clearly very important to the taxi driver. As I stepped out of the taxi, I ran around to the back to get a good look. The sticker said “Be the change you wish to see in the world” . It is a quote from Gandhi that I had heard before, but for some reason, on that night, with the Caribbean breeze blowing and the knowledge that our trip was ending, those words really connected to me.
As we landed back in the frigid cold I pledged to myself to “Be the Change” and I began to think about what I wanted to see in the world. As I came up with my list, I shared it with my classes last week. I asked my students to use their mats as a place to practice and cultivate whatever change they wanted to see in the world.
Compassion was the first one on my list so I reminded them as they moved through the opening Sun Salutations to cultivate compassion and acceptance for themselves and with that practice they will give and see more compassion and acceptance off the mat as well .
The next on my list was Flexibility. We all know someone we wish could have more Flexibility in the body AND mind so as we practiced donkey kicks to handstand, I reminded them to be flexible….open to the possibilities without judgment, and breath deeply to maximize the space in the body and the mind.
A combination of Strength and Lightness of mind and body was next as I continued my quest to “be the change”. The world needs more people who are Strong in Character and in their Mind/Body connection and can use that strength to find a way to be Light as well. So as we floated from Parsvokonasana (side angle pose) into Ardha Chandrasana (half moon pose) and from Pavritta Trikonasana (revolved triangle) into Pavritta Ardha Chandrasana (revolved half moon) we experienced the need to be strong, focused and present in mind and body, and the opportunity to also feel lightness as we lifted through the top arm and opened or rotated the spine…all of those pieces together made a perfect combination.
Lastly, I asked my students to cultivate some Joyfulness on their mats as the world can certainly use much more joy. We played with challenging transitions from Ardha Chandrasana (half moon) to Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana (standing hand to toe pose) and smiled as we gracefully (or not so much) made our way from one to the other. Again I asked for joy as we experimented with Bakasana (crow pose) and tried to lift one leg up and behind. We put bolsters on our mats so we had no fear if we fell. We smiled and giggled a little and it felt joyful.
As the practice began to slow down and preparation began for our final Savasana, I thanked my students for all of their hard work. To cultivate this change in ourselves in order to see more of that change in the world is a difficult and selfless act.
My journey to “Be the change” is to create more compassion, flexibility, strength, lightness and joyfulness in myself and out in the world. I know it will be a lifelong practice. I asked my students to create their own list of the changes they wanted to see in the world, and to find great happiness in knowing that by “being the change they wish to see in the world” they are making their own wishes come true. Namaste.