Choosing clarity over comfort
and service over self-indulgence,
knowing that short-term pleasure
eats into long term success…
I think about what makes a leader a leader.
Beyond the roles we play
and the hats we don,
what is our true identity?
The moment we breathe slowly and deeply
we enter into the field of presence
that was never given
and can never be taken away.
I look up to anyone
who can enter this field
and show me how to arrive there
without tricks or gimmicks,
without bypassing or denial.
If I cannot find such a one to lead me,
I must become a leader myself.
And in today’s world, rife with chaos,
fraught with trauma,
I think that this is precisely
what Life is asking all of us to do.
When life asks you to change
by pulling the rug out from under you,
when your relationship falls apart,
when your health suddenly fails,
when a source of abundance suddenly dries up,
when nothing makes sense anymore,
to cling to the past is sheer insanity.
At that point, the most lucid response would be
to take a deep breath and feel into the moment,
to see what the moment is asking of you.
The answers are here, now,
in your beating heart,
in leaves stirred by an invisible wind,
in the changing of the seasons,
in the rhythm of your days and nights.
Release the past that is no longer relevant
to the person you are becoming.
Face your future with open arms,
and see what the moment is asking of you.
If I stay in the now,
everything is ok.
If I allow myself to regress to the past
or project into the future
I am filled with regret and shame
or anxiety and hopelessness.
Clearly the sane choice
is to stay in the now.
How do I do this?
I breathe, and I feel my breath.
I really look at my children
as they read, or play, or eat,
or argue with one another.
I notice my hands batting
at the insect that buzzes near my ears
as I walk in the humid forest,
earth floor damp,
ferns glowing emerald green
in the golden dusk light,
the beauty of it all.
Oh my mind,
I beg you.
Stay present. Stay with me.
Stay here now.
I give the good medicine that heals.
My voice carries magic
that soothes, uplifts and restores.
My touch brings life and renewal.
I watch as tension melts away
and peace returns to those
who come seeking the healing I offer.
I instruct them to remain present.
I remind them that we only have this now.
I can articulate perfectly
how our brains are hardwired
to remember negative information,
and how there is so much hope
our brain’s capacity to be reshaped.
I marvel at this ability
to give my students what they need,
to instruct poses that strengthen,
balance, reshape and empower,
to guide their breathing,
slow their heart rates
and allow the present moment
to blossom like a flower within them.
But when it’s time for me
to take my own medicine—
well, let’s just say
that I’m a wonderful doctor
but a terrible patient.
When you’re 42 years old
with two young children,
celibate for the last two years,
yearning for human contact
but trusting no one…
When there’s just $35 in your checking account…
and your AC has been broken for two weeks
and there’s a wiring problem in your house
necessitating running extension cords
from your refrigerator and freezer
to outlets in another room…
When you’re feeling
tired, angry, and lonely,
but you’ve made a commitment to sobriety
to try to claw your way out
of this pit you’ve fallen into…
When the only direction you can go is up,
but you’re so damn depressed that breathing feels hard—
HOW DO YOU FIND THE STRENGTH TO CLIMB?
Friends, that last question is not rhetorical. I quite literally want to know how YOU, you who have made it through tough circumstances and who have come out stronger, how YOU did it. I need some hope. Please share your experience, strength and hope with me.
If I could take a step back long enough
and see that I never needed to worry
because everything always works out
(doesn’t it?) in the end…
And if I could stop, relax, take a deep breath,
p a u s e
Might I see that all the “problems” I perceived
were merely thoughts in my mind,
and that I was fully capable
of thinking other thoughts?
And might the freedom of this
bubble up as a great big laugh,
because all along,
I was the warden and the prisoner both,
and the one who witnessed,
and the space where all of these exist?
Yes, I might just laugh and laugh
and not even notice
how much of a fool
I’ve become in the eyes of everyone else.
I would welcome such foolishness.
As I let go of the excess
the essence is revealed
and so are the steps
to fulfill my deeper purpose.
In this way,
healing has become
a process of letting go
so I can see what is,
and a willingness to breathe
so that I can be led from there.