“Sometimes we need to re-tool ourselves. The way you have operated no longer serves you or those around you. How you will function without those old ways you haven’t a clue. Still, any more action based on that dated operating system is untenable, grating. It takes a serious dollop of trust and patience to allow space for something new to emerge. I believe it is worth the wait. Though great intelligence is often crammed into one earthly skull, there are intelligences of heart and spirit whose directive powers can only unfurl to new standing in the permitted pauses we so rarely welcome or endure.” — Gil Hedley
“Change has considerable psychological impact on the human mind. To the fearful it is threatening because it means that things may get worse. To the hopeful it is encouraging because things may get better. To the confident it is inspiring because the challenge exists to make things better.” – King Whitney Jr.
I found this years ago from another teacher’s (Bobbie’s) email signature. It offers me a great reflective opportunity — checking where am I on the change-reaction spectrum.
A student, who wanted to go by Anonymous, we’ll call him Tinsley, offered this addendum:
“To the curious it is constant because it leads to growth.” – Anonymous (aka Tinsley)
Thank you Bobbie, Tinsley and King Whitney.
“How strange that the nature of life is change, yet the nature of human beings is to resist change. And how ironic that the difficult times we fear might ruin us are the very ones that can break us open and help us blossom into who we were meant to be.”― Elizabeth Lesser
From Elizabeth Lesser’s inspiring book Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow.
(I ended up on this tangent on impermanence while finally finishing my newsletter as I got some reminders lately, both personally and as a teacher. I did not find it appropriate to include right now, however, thought I would still share as someone may benefit.)
Life and most everything we associate with our lives is impermanent. Everything ends, and this truth can be hard to accept. And at any given moment we can be both on the receiving and giving end of this fact. I can say with the benefit of time and space, that I have been blessed to experience the receiving end of this hard reality with injuries, lay-offs, ailments and deaths of loved-ones, and with divorce. Had I been practicing yoga during some of these initial experiences, maybe I could have made peace quicker with these end-of-my-world experiences (death to my life as I knew it).
Practice gives us direct experience with making peace with the inevitable. The breath comes and goes, thoughts and emotions come and go. The fact that all things “good” and “bad” things come to an end, may be the only thing that gets us through the most trying times/the end of our worlds.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.” — Reinhold Niebuhr
The Serenity Prayer above, which I recently shared as a reading in class and post, serves as a useful mantra during trying times to help resolve the citta vrittis (agitations of the mind). It serves as a reminder of the limited yet powerful abilities we have to surrender, accept get present and then take skillfull/mindful action. We cannot control a lot of things around us, only the thoughts we have and actions we take. The observance of the Niyama Isvara Pranidana, surrendering to God (or any other Divinity or higher power or greater good) and taking action that is in service of, takes out ego and any subsequent attachments to outcomes.
I know personally, my heartstrings are pulled easily by the suffering of others, so I may not escape sadness, but I have been able to continue to function through some trying moments. Being of service as a teacher and previously in non-profit helped me stay present and serve, even during some really challenging times, even when I did not think I could. I am truly grateful for the ability to do this, to continue to be of service and teach — so THANK YOU, THANK YOU!
(I also want to give a shout out to the focus@will App. I just heard of it earlier this week through Netted and this deadline driven procrastinator figured he would give this science based tool a try and I had some productive sessions and even wrote more than fit in my newsletter!)
Week of 3/25:
“It was one of those March days when the sun shines hot and the wind
blows cold: when it is summer in the light, and winter in the shade.” –
Charles Dickens, Great Expectations
The experience of teaching in the Back Bay and walking between classes this time of year always inspires the recall of this favorite quote. I love how it speaks to the impermanence of life and practice and the challenges of acceptance and non-attachment. So easy to want to hold-on to the warmth of the sun, especially as some bitter winds strike without hesitation as you round a corner. Notice any tendencies to put off your personal happiness until winter is really over: “Can’t wait for Spring or Summer, so then I….”
Week of 4/1:
“Expect to have hope rekindled. Expect your prayers to be answered in
wondrous ways. The dry seasons in life do not last. The spring rains will
come again.” – Sarah Ban Breathnach
Change is inevitable. As we transition to spring, with the holidays of Easter and Passover, and the blooming of trees it is a time of renewal, rebirth, hope. We always have the opportunity to start fresh with more formal markers as we start each year, season, month, week, day; but also with each unrolling of the mat, with each new breath.