It’s interesting how the universe works. It offers us perspective at just the right time if we are open to receiving it. Memorial Day Weekend I was feeling the passage of time. We went to Florida for a visit. It has been 7 years since we lived there and I felt….old. My inner voice was loud and negative. On the last day of our trip I was working hard to quiet that inner critic and I had a realization. It was 5 years to that very day that I had lost my friend Lisa. Lisa taught me many lessons in a very short time. And 5 years later, the universe reminded me of those lessons once again.
She taught me what a true privilege it is to get older, to experience the passage of time, to watch your children grow up. During her 6 month cancer fight she told me most of all that she was fighting for the privilege of getting laugh lines from years of joy with her children, wrinkles that come from a well lived life and even sun spots from endless hours on the beach (Lisa loved the beach).
She also taught me to truly listen to my body. Lisa had experienced abdominal pain for at least a year before she was diagnosed. She took Advil and Tums and very good care of her two beautiful children and her husband. She didn’t listen to what her body was telling her. Because she gave so much to all those around her she didn’t have much left for herself; she didn’t make herself a priority. We have the opportunity; the gift to care for ourselves. And when we do that, we are that much better for all the people we love in our lives. It is a selfishness that makes us more selfless.
So, as we began on our mats this week I asked my students to share in the wisdom of Lisa’s lessons. To find gratitude in the time that passes, to truly enjoy the moments along the way and to listen and nurture the body and the mind. We began in Supta Baddha Konasana (laying on our backs with feet together and knees out to the side) with one hand on the belly and one on the heart. We warmed up the abdominals and moved into Sun Salutations and let the flow and the breath begin to quiet the inner critic. We flowed, twisted and balanced on our mats to cultivate focus and cleanse the body of unhealthy energy; to practice listening and nurturing our bodies and our minds. We backed off when we needed and explored revolved Parsvokonasana into Eka Pada Koundinyasana (arm balance) only when we felt ready.
The practice of Yoga truly lives off the mat. Finding the perspective to be grateful for the opportunity to age, to experience stages of life and to be comfortable in our own skin comes from a gratitude and understanding that what we are given each day is a gift, not a guarantee. It is easy for our inner critic to be loud and critical. With perspective and gratitude we can quiet the critic and enjoy the journey.
Back in the room, we slowed into our final seated postures and transitioned into Savasana. As I felt the energy become quiet, I brought myself back to the moment in the picture above; Practicing Uttitha Hasta Padangustasana on that rock, on a beautiful beach with the waves crashing behind me, I was practicing so much more. I was practicing gratitude for the opportunity to be there in that moment as I had been many times before and for having known and learned from such a special person. I was practicing nurturing the body and the mind by listening and quieting my inner critic. I was practicing Lisa’s lessons. I feel incredible gratitude for the lessons she taught and for being reminded of them just when I needed them. Namaste.