Vacations are like miniature versions of our life journey…there is a beginning, middle and an end…there are some big, wonderful moments along the way and many many small moments. The more PRESENT we are on our journey, the more we get to connect to the joy from not just the big moments, but those small moments as well; the ones happening everyday. These are the moments that make the Journey Joyful.
I traveled to Hawaii last week with my family and it was wonderful. We experienced BIG things; the top of a 10,000 foot Volcano, an immense bamboo forest, an 80 foot waterfall, massive breaching whales and all-encompassing sunsets. However, to me, it was the LITTLE moments that made the journey special. I fondly remembered having many of the same experiences on my honeymoon in Hawaii several years ago. I watched my husband cliff-dive into a waterfall pool and my son and daughter boogie board all the way up to the beach together. Yet, there was another little moment that touched me the most; every time (for which there were many on this trip) a small hand slipped inside my own; the feeling of the fingers of my children curl around my fingers, unrequested, just because they wanted, made this journey so incredibly sweet.
As I taught my classes this week, my message was simple and sweet (just like the feeling of one of my children’s hand inside my own as we walked) Be Present for the Small Moments and create a Joyful Journey. I asked my students to connect to an everyday moment off the mat that made them smile or feel warm in their hearts and to set intention towards having a joyful journey on their mats this week by acknowledging those special, little everyday moments on the mat that offer joy. I shared that the feeling of my children’s small fingers interlaced with my own still makes me feel warm inside.
On our mats, we began our practice of connecting to those everyday special moments with our first Downward Dog of the day. I asked them to take it in, to connect to the feeling, the sensation as the body prepared for what it knew was to come. We spend so much time in Downward Dog on our mats, entering it and exiting it, using it to transition from one pose to the next that it seemed like the perfect pose to represent our little everyday special moments on our mats. We practiced Warrior 2 with arms behind our backs and when we did stretch the arms out fully in Warrior 2, we could appreciate how wonderful that “ordinary” pose felt, and we smiled. Often we focus on the BIG poses, the challenging arm balances or binds and less on all the small transitions and “ordinary, everyday” poses we do regularly in our practice that give our bodies what they need, that keep us coming back to the mat. Those are the small moments, the ones that provide the everyday joy. And off the mat, the same…often we measure our journey by those “big” moments and we are not as present for the “small, everyday” ones that can provide so much joy.
As we flowed through our Asana practice, we retraced our steps quite a bit; transitioning from Standing Split back to Warrior 3 and then Warrior 1 and from Dancers (pictured above) to Dancers Half Moon and then back to Dancers again. These served as powerful reminders that the journey is not a straight line forward…and sometimes retracing our steps, (as I did many times on my trip) can offer clarity and appreciation for where we have been and all the moments along the way.
Gradually we transitioned into Savasana and I reminded my students again to connect to their everyday moment off the mat, the one they had identified that made them feel joy or warmth or gratitude; perhaps something as subtle as a smile. The practice of being present, of connecting to the everyday joy in our lives is just that, A PRACTICE, one that we can take with us off the mat.
After class, a student came up to me. She said “I just loved that first Downward Dog”. A smile came to my face, I felt warm inside and I realized that this moment was another one that I didn’t let pass me by. Namaste