When we pause, allow a gap, and breath deeply, we can experience instant refreshment. Suddenly we slow down, look out, and there’s the world. It can feel like briefly standing in the eye of the tornado or the still point of a turning wheel. Our mood may be agitated or cheerful. What we see and hear may be chaos or it may be the ocean, the mountains, or birds flying across a clear blue sky. Either way, momentarily our mind is still and we are not pulled in or pushed away by what we are experiencing.
~ Pema Chodron
One of the gifts I got for Christmas (or maybe it would be more appropriate to say one of the gifts I gave myself) just kicked in, so to speak, last week. It’s an intensive (and intense) 11-week yoga course called The Art of Self-Care. I’m not going to provide a description of what the course is (you can read about it here, if you’re interested), but I will tell you that it isn’t what you might think. It isn’t about a brand new diet or a 30-day challenge or even New Year’s resolutions. It is, as I’ve already discovered in just the first week, so much deeper than any of that.
Remember the word I was avoiding when I picked my word/theme for the year? Yeah, that: Surrender. It’s a good word. I avoided it because I wasn’t sure I was ready for the lessons it might teach. I went with Listening (or Listen) without realizing how deep listening, truly listening to either yourself or others or the world around you, is also a type of surrender. When I figured that out last week, I had to laugh. And laugh some more. The Universe has an amazing sense of humor. What you resist, persists. Or so they say. They may be right.
I have not worked with any kind of formal teacher in a very long time. Decades. I have never worked with a yoga teacher. Almost all of my learning about yoga, of yoga, has been as a solitary practitioner via books and Yoga Journal magazine (back in the old days, when I was a dinosaur), and later via videos, blogs, and newsletters I have taken one yoga class, way back in the 90’s. I left the class feeling as if I somehow failed and I must have carried that feeling with me because it is one of the reasons I’ve avoided another class. It is also something, or a ghost of something, that I feel now, working with a teacher. A touch of inadequacy. Diving into that further, it’s not so much a feeling of inadequacy or lack of worth as this: I am WAY outside of my comfort zone. Way, way, way out.
Some of this (maybe much of this) is unknown, unexplored territory for me. I find that kind of humorous too. As part of a Solstice ceremony with Dana (I ended up having to go with the replay because I was traveling when she held it live), I did a card reading for the year using the Osho Zen Tarot deck. The card for January I pulled is: Adventure. I’m not at all sure where I thought Adventure might lead, but it sounded good. It still sounds good. I’ve come to learn very quickly that Adventure can also be work, good work, if you go beyond the surface of it. (For those interested, you can find a picture of the card, Adventure (Page of Rainbows), and the meaning here.)
Something from the course I am meditating on today:
Hatred never ends through hatred.
By non-hate alone does it end.
This is an ancient truth.
~ from The Dhammapada, Sayings of the Buddha
In this world
Hate never yet dispelled hate.
Only love dispels hate.
This is the law,
Ancient and inexhaustible.
~ another translation
These are seeds, I think, that have the ability to grow with meditation/contemplation (nourishment, in a sense). I also think it’s a good reminder for our place in time. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said something similar in his sermon “Loving Your Enemies“:
… hate for hate only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. If I hit you and you hit me and I hit you back and you hit me back and go on, you see, that goes on ad infinitum. It just never ends. Somewhere somebody must have a little sense, and that’s the strong person. The strong person is the person who can cut off the chain of hate, the chain of evil. And that is the tragedy of hate, that it doesn’t cut it off. It only intensifies the existence of hate and evil in the universe. Somebody must have religion enough and morality enough to cut it off and inject within the very structure of the universe that strong and powerful element of love.
I don’t know that I have “morality enough” but it’s something I want to dive into. I’ve grown tired of the hate, and it’s something I hoped we would be long past by now. If only those who profess to be followers of certain religions practiced what was preached. It might make this a better world.
I reckon that’s enough of that. I apologize if it sounds as though I’m preaching. It’s not my intent. I’m just working through things I’m learning in a way that I haven’t learned them before. That’s also enough meandering on this cloudy Monday. We started out the day with a beautiful sunrise, but the day gradually grew cloudier and cloudier. It was nice to see the sun for a little while. I don’t think we’ve seen much of it during this first week of 2019 (or the last week of 2018). It’s been showing up in the early mornings and at sunset, from time to time. Sunset tonight is 5 PM. On the dot. Let’s meet on the dock if it looks like the clouds will clear. I’ll be there about twenty minutes before that. I will probably ramble a little in the woods first. Bundle up. It’s damp and chilly (in the 30’s), and that kind of weather seems to cut right to the bone.
Be good, be kind, be loving. Just Be. 🙂
A few of the 10,000 reasons to be happy: 1,001) New (to me) ways of learning. 1,002) Watching the tide come in and go out, and that moment when it seems to stop before changing directions. 1,003) The pair of Bald Eagles living somewhere near the Point. They must be getting used to me. They used to fly off as soon as I stepped out of the car. They don’t do that anymore. 1,004) Being able to read a bedtime to story to Little Wookie last night thanks to the marvels of modern technology. 1,005) Late Christmas packages. A couple of them arrived today, giving us a chance to celebrate all over again.