I was talking with a friend about wealth…
She said that I am far wealthier
than some ultra wealthy people
who have amassed incredible material wealth.
She said that I am far wealthier than they
in terms of my ability to feel happy and fulfilled
and to experience peace in the present moment…
And I got to thinking about my two children,
how bright, and healthy and beautiful they are,
and my yoga and meditation practice,
my work teaching yoga,
the talents God has given me
to write, to draw, to sing, to move
with my heart.
I thought about my bank account,
and although it’s presently modest,
I can feel grateful and proud about
how hard I’ve been working
to achieve financial stability,
several months of sobriety under my belt,
maintaining consistency in my spiritual practice,
gratitude journaling every night,
pausing and appreciating nature in its many forms,
the changes of the seasons,
the fact I can see and hear and smell and taste and touch
this present moment, alive in my body,
alive all around me…
And the connection, the human connection
that my work gives me,
spending time with beloveds who actually
choose me as their teacher,
who come back not because they have to,
but because they want to—
And I realize that yes, yes indeed—
I am ultra wealthy.
What if I didn’t have to try so hard to succeed?
What if all I needed to do was breathe and see
and open my heart to the feeling of peace?
I give everything I have
and a part of me says
This isn’t enough.
I’m learning to listen to another part.
It’s quieter and deeper under
and I have to get still
in order to hear it and feel it.
When I tune into this part,
I don’t have to try so hard.
I can breathe and see
and open my heart to the feeling of peace.
Opening into spacious awareness,
relaxing open into the moment
as it presents itself,
this is my practice.
I’ve been working on identifying the feeling,
and breathing into the center of it…
then breathing out a willingness to feel.
Not change, fix, analyze, interpret, judge or understand,
but just feel.
I felt called to bring this practice to my students
and have had the privilege to teach
four times already this week.
I am so grateful for this work where
I find something that helps and heals,
and then I get to share it with others.
It turns out that the more attention
I give to these positive feeling states
the more my brain creates circuitry
to support the experience of those states
in my body, mind, and life.
My mind has been focused on suffering
and now it is time for a new habit.
God, give me the strength
to focus on how I really want to feel.
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 faced with imminent homelessness
and being met with obstacle after obstacle
to securing a home for myself and my kids—
what real choice is there?
I can choose to be present and experience peace,
or I can choose to focus on the future
and feel terror.
The choice seems so easy, doesn’t it?
Just stay present. Just choose peace.
But then there is the reality of being human,
having been trained to avoid the present moment
for most of my life.
Yes, even as a yoga teacher,
even with my daily meditation practice
(over seven years now of daily meditation)
I still find it extraordinarily difficult
just to remain present.
There are so many ways I’ve learned
to just not be here. To just not feel.
I see that my body has been terrified for a long time,
perhaps since childhood…
perhaps I carry the terror of ancestors
struggling to survive,
a terror encoded in my genes
that no amount of therapy could cure.
My task becomes a reconditioning
of this body-mind,
to retrain my nervous system to udnerstand
that in this moment, I am safe.
In this moment, all is well.
Until I am able to gain more footing
on this path of peace,
I’ll need to be content with the space
between peace and terror,
and reconcile the one who is afraid
with the one who soothes, reassures, calms and holds.
God, let me find the One within me
that knows just what to do and what to say
to always bring me back home to the ground of being,
this moment where PEACE IS within me,
despite the chaos the swirls around on the outside.
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.