Archive for February, 2012

book

I can sum up the themes for the Intro to Yoga series into the shortest self-help book ever.

Chapter One: Keep it Simple

Chapter Two: Create Space

Chapter Three: Dedication

Chapter Four: Delight

Chapter Five: Visit Your Family

Chapter Six: Evenness

The last chapter is what we worked on last Sunday.  Evenness (sattvic or sattva in sanskrit), is the idea that when life moves through extremes, we don’t follow the swing of the pendulum.  Of course, we feel joy and sorrow, rage and awe, but we don’t act on them, we don’t hold them in the body or the mind for any length of time.  We see the pendulum swinging, and we see that each time it swings, it swings through center, through evenness.  And, we hope that with time, with practice, the swings of the pendulum grow less extreme, our experience of life is life with ease, with evenness: a life that is sattvic.

You’ll note that there were six classes in the series, but class five I was off in RI visiting my family (yes, my grandmother had a wonderful time at her party, as we all did!).  A balance like this is probably about right: five parts in practice on my mat, one part putting it into practice in the world.

February 23, 2012 at 9:34 pm 4 comments

dedication

I’ll miss my intro to yoga class this coming Sunday, as I’ll be helping my grandmother celebrate her 100th birthday.

My grandmother has gotten to 100 with amazing good health and good cheer.  A year and a half ago, when she was in the hospital for surgery, it was her first overnight stay in a hospital in more than forty years.

When we visited her over the summer, she told me how much god has blessed her life.  She has lived through many hardships, including coming to this country alone as a teenager.  She has watched many people die, including her husband, her son-in-law (my father), and her dear niece.  Still, she says, I have had a lot of good luck.

I can’t explain her longevity, but I can explain her luck: she has dedicated herself to the good.  Surely, my grandmother could speak of her sorrows.  But much of the time, she chooses to speak of the good of her life, both the past and the present.  She dedicates herself to the highest–the highest in herself and in others, and in so doing, she presents an amazing example to me.

my grandmother, my daughter, and I

If I make it to 100, like my grandmother, will I spend my days talking about the luck god has given me, or will I spend them lamenting the friends I have lost, the relatives I have buried, the chances I have missed? It depends in part on what I dedicate myself to.

As I think of it, there are at least two kinds of dedication.  There’s dedication to the yoga practice (or our careers, or our hobbies, or whatever it is that we do).  This is what brings us to the mat when we don’t really feel like practicing, it is what snaps our mind back to attention when we waver.  It is a tool that we can use, so that we spend our time doing what matters.

Then there’s the dedication we have in our hearts.  This kind of dedication isn’t about what we do, but how we approach what we do.

In the intro class this past Sunday, I invited students to think of someone who inspires them.  Someone who dedicates themselves to the highest.  Someone who sees and experiences the good and the bad in life, and chooses to focus on the good.  Someone whose dedication can be an inspiration, so that we too can see our luck, see what life gives and brings us, and be grateful.

February 2, 2012 at 4:24 pm 6 comments


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