When we think of the word opposites, we generally think of two forces opposing each other. Being so different. Take the sun and the moon for example, in all their differences they both cast light down to earth. Maybe in different intensities, but I’ve seen many a moon that has lit up the darkness so brilliantly. Like the sun wearing sunglasses, like the sun sleeping with the shades pulled down. The moon is reflecting the suns light as a reminder that there’s always light for those who look. So these two opposites, are they really opposing each other? Or are they two sides coming together to make the same whole? Two sides to the same coin. We are taught to think in opposites. Good/bad, light/dark, in/out, but are they really that different? I really love the image of the ying and yang symbol, because it represent how parts are always pieces of a whole. The darkness has a bright spot, and the light has dark. The world does not and cannot exist without both. In the same way that we cannot go through life only experiencing joy because we would never learn. In our darkest times, in times of suffering, when we come out to the other side it is through that process that we learn and grow. Wounds are how the light gets in. So today in your practice, in your life, when something opposes you, if your body opposes you, when you feel like life is opposing you, can you look inside and notice the connection, the place where both sides meet, the ying to the yang, the darkness in light and the light in dark? Can you begin to dissolve the difference? In yoga we build the mind body connection because they’re meant to be one, they go together, ones ebbs and flows into the other, and we do that through the breath, with the breath, just like the breath. So when it comes up, when you find you want to oppose something in your practice, in your life, can you breath into that place where it lives? Can you open the connection? Can you soften to yourself, and your lesson?
There are so many things to be thankful for. Simple things. A warm cup of coffee in your favorite mug perhaps? That’s one of the joys I take pleasure in every day. The way the mug feels around cold morning hands. The way the smell tickles your nose as it’s brewing, and starts to awaken your senses. A good cup of coffee can take the chill out of the winter blues, or even be the reason for a visit from a friend. I’ve had countless conversations over a cup, or ten cups of coffee depending on the day. The kitchen is my favorite room in the house for a few reasons, a big reason is that’s where the coffee lives, but it’s also where people come to my table. I’ve always found so much joy in feeding people. The way coffee, tea, and treats can make the perfect setting for an afternoon of conversations or games, and the way people light up at the sight of home made dishes. Sometimes I wonder what kind of grandmother I’ll be. I can’t wait for the day when my family takes up a whole table, and everyone comes to cook and eat and share in such a simple joy in life. I sometimes think this is why people put so much pressure on themselves around the holidays. There just isn’t a lot of time these days to be making everything from scratch, and now it’s so much easier to get a little help from your local grocery store when it comes to eating healthy, and not having to dirty every dish to put dinner together every night. Cooking is a lot of work, but it is always so worth it to me. There are a few things in this life that are universal and organically bring people together, and one of my favorites is eating great food, the one that is inevitable is death, and the two often meet ironically. Eating is something we all have to do, and one day we will all die. Death reminds us all that we are living in finite bodies. It binds us together in empathy because at one point or another we will experience it in all its shades, and finally for ourselves. Food reminds me to savour the little things in life. If I had people I love together, eating and laughing, I could die happily with few regrets. I think if you can learn to view the beauty in ordinary moments, you will lead a happy life. Children know this best, and we can learn a lot from them. They haven’t seen a butterfly a million times, so they will stop to cherish the simple beauty and ease as it flutters in a soft breeze, or laugh out loud at a silly dog side tracking in a park, or share a cookie with a beautiful stranger because why not? What have they(we) got to lose? They take each moment for what it is because they haven’t a past to refer to, to sway their judgments, to make them weigh options, and timing, and bank accounts. All they have is now. It’s incredibly intoxicating for me to hear the laugh of a child, especially when they have the full on out of breath, drool flying everywhere, can’t stop laughing giggles. It gets me every time no matter where I am because it’s truly a beautiful thing. They let themselves get totally immersed in the moment, in the present, and they only know how to show up as themselves. I’ve learned a lot from my years of teaching children to dance, especially the wee ones. They only know how to be themselves if it’s encouraged and nurtured that way, and there is so much to learn from them. In shamanistic societies, if you came to a medicine person with complaints of depression, or a heavy heart, they would ask you one of four questions, “When did you stop dancing?, When did you stop singing?, When did you stop being enchanted by stories?,When did you stop finding comfort in the sweet territory of silence?” I think this is a huge factor as to why we are drawn to children and their youth, the newness that they bring. The way a baby can make you appreciate the world with new eyes unlike anything else on this earth, and all before they can even speak. Too often as adults we are on auto pilot. I’m not saying that it’s not ok, and even necessary at times, but I think we leave it on way too often. What would happen if you really lived in the moment? Making excuses not to do things often take up way more of our time and most definitely do not feel as good as saying yes to the things we want. There are always reasons not to do things if you let there be. There are always more dishes to wash, laundry to do, and groceries to buy. That’s a lot of that in this life too. Being happy can come down to whether or not the majority of your time is spent doing things you have to do, or if it’s spent doing the things you want to do. Sometimes you have to do both to get the things you want, but that’s ok. The world doesn’t care about what you want, or what I want. There are 7 billion other people on this planet, and you are only one. That’s pretty insignificantly small, but it can be so freeing. The only person who decides what you do with your life is you. You have the power to create any change that you want. Anything worth doing is rarely easy, but when you’re doing the things you truly want in your life, it can be pretty rewarding to give it your all, even when times get tough and you feel like you can’t go on. That’s where other people come in. Human beings who care about each other, and help for the good of sowing happiness in another person’s garden. This is what life is about for me. Happiness is easiest found in a reflection. Do not let that little voice try and tell you you’re not good enough when you see something just beyond your grasp. Be prepared to work hard for the things you want, and take pleasure in the simple moments. Because those monumental moments in life, those “omg I can’t believe it, this is exactly like a movie” moments are pretty far and few. But when you shift your gaze, open up your scope and find happiness in the ordinary, life can be a pretty beautiful journey. What are you thankful for?
Sometimes we feel like life pulls the rug out from under us, and we find ourselves square on our backs, and vulnerable. It can be a really uncomfortable place to be, and we struggle not unlike an upside down turtle with their arms and legs flailing about. Panicking. Asking ourselves, “How did this happen?” or “Where did I go wrong?”. We find ourselves on our backs in life looking up at this looking glass of love and wishing for it, instead of looking through the glass of love with our hearts open. In the end it is that small distance between us and the glass that’s keeping us from feeling fulfilled. That distance is an inner perspective that only we have the choice to close. To have the proximity, and the courage to look at life through the lens of love, instead of looking at love like it’s something over there in the distance, something you’re reaching for. Love is in the moment, right now. Love is all around us. We see it every day if we take the time to look. Some days we have wedged ourselves up against the looking glass of love instead of looking through it in our owns lives with our own eyes. Bearing witness to love is the first step, and nobody can tell you what that looks like but you. Whether it’s the sun shining on your face, meeting eyes with a beautiful stranger, getting to pet the dog you plan on having in the future, taking a yoga class, savoring a home cooked meal, or maybe if you ‘re like me, hearing the intoxicating sound of a baby’s giggle. Things that fill you up, if you let them, if you can close the distance between yourself and love and remember that it is indeed a reflection. That glass isn’t a wall, or a barrier. There’s nothing in between you and love that will ever stop you except yourself. Rumi says it beautifully by saying that “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Are you searching blindly? Walking past all of the moments that would reflect the love in your heart back to you? It is not easy. We each have experiences, our Samskaras, the residue of the past that can hold us back, make us hesitate, and close off. I believe that as human beings it is in our DNA to connect with others, to reach out. That may look like different things for different people, but even the most introverted people need to connect in whatever way that makes sense for them. Sometimes when life pulls the rug out from under us, instead of thinking that it is something wrong, can you have the patience to breath, look around, and pause. Sometimes life has been giving us signs all along. LIke when you’re driving and suddenly you hit a dead end or a cul-de-sac, and you are completely shocked. Yet when you turn around and drive back, you realize that they were little signs along the way, you just weren’t looking for them. In a life that is crazy fast, and potentially pulling us in a million directions at once, can you take when you fall not as failure, not as a fault, but as a moment to stop, and breath. We don’t always give ourselves the time to slow down and check in. I don’t know about you, but in my experience in those times of turtling, when I’m often hurting the most, when I finally get back up I realize after what it was all for, and I find growth.
It could takes minutes, days, or even years. But it always takes longer when we beat ourselves up for falling in the first place. It is our greatest moment to learn, to reset, and to start back on a path that makes sense for us. And sometimes, a friend might even come along to help us on our feet, who connects us back into that feeling of oneness, who says with or without words, “I’ve been there too.” So today, I’m choosing to open my heart and love, put love up on my mirror and hold it in my heart, and see what reflects back! I wish you this day, filled with more love.
I came across a photo a while back, and it resurfaced again today and it got me thinking. Morgan Freeman’s prodigious, yet simple response to how to stop Racism. How you ask? Stop talking about it. It’s scary, but true. Now ok, that’s a simplified version of course, but if you understand the basic meaning that I believe Morgan Freeman is talking about, then we have a hope for change that is good. This also could apply to so much more than racism, but let’s stay on topic. If you want to stop racism, stop speaking about the human race as if it’s divided, instead using it as a way to celebrate people’s differences instead of segregating people. Morgan Freeman’s argument about black history month is the perfect example. It’s the only history I know of that has it’s own month, (though in my city I see people talking about black history month many months of the year, not only in black history month), and why shouldn’t they? What I’m saying is that this is a very fine line here. People asking not to be separated but would have black history contained to one month. Isn’t black history part of everyone’s history? Part of the puzzle to this so called life? Why don’t we have white history month? A lot of people would believe that to be racist. I wouldn’t want to be the one to compile everything that has happened throughout time to one month for anyone. Isn’t having a black history month just as racist then? Why is that portion of human beings having their specific history reduced to 1 out of 12 months of the year? Is there some secret code that stops people from speaking about it at other times of the year? Ok, so I’m going a bit far here, but this is what I’m talking about. Where do we draw the line? Kony 2012 has started a huge movement on uniting a large portion of people on this global issue. People of all colors, upbringings, and classes. Do we always need to be against something in order to stand together? Now that we can see each other on a more global level than ever before, don’t we understand more than ever that there are many shades of alike-ness in the world? That we don’t have to agree on everything, but that most people can agree on some things. We know that there are more than just primary colours and shades when it comes to art, can we apply it to life? If you’re brave enough to mix and play with your own needs and wants with integrity, love and compassion, I believe that so many amazing and beautiful things can happen. Someone did say that variety is the spice of life…