Life is rare and precious. This is a simple and profound teaching that every spiritual traditional I have explored teaches.
Recently, during a long flight, I watched two movies. I actually watched them in a row. I wanted something light, a romantic comedy … hoping to fall asleep as quickly as possible. The first movie actually made me cry and prevented me from sleeping. And the second one made me laugh and I thoroughly watched it. The heroines of both movies have brushed with death (end of movie spoiler … for now)
My practices both as a yoga student and a yoga teacher require receptivity, a willingness to remain teachable, to be touched by someone or something.
I am still reviewing 2017, but I can already say it: this was a very hectic year. Things did not often go as planned. I felt forced to slow down or at least, to learn patience and living with the unknown: preparing for the death of a loved one while maintaining a semblance of normalcy for our teenager son and for my community at large.
Life in Geneva, I realized, was not anymore synonymous with quiet and predictable. Not only for me, but for my family, my close friends and students. There were meaningful encounters too …
Last October, walking down the streets of Munich with a dear friend, she took my hand and said « Please rest and grieve without worry. You are in a poignant space… » In Sanskrit, there is a word for the enlightenment principle; guru. It is a force operating around us and within us at all times. It can be a teacher or a teaching clearing away doubt and confusion. It can be anything or anyone leading us into that poignant space. It takes humility and devotion to remain open to the unexpected and stay on course.
Spoiler alert: there is a beautiful scene in «The Big Sick » when Kumail gives Emily a collage of all his hospital visitor’s passes and other tokens of his affection. He empties his « bag of devotion » for her yet she is not moved. « Emptying one’s cup » ( a zen metaphor), the gesture of bowing and the respect a student gives a teacher always benefits the sincere student of yoga (and life). It is never for the teacher’s benefit. What is in your bag of devotion ? degrees, awards, achievements, « proud mom/dad/CEO », money, etc.. Consider emptying it, for the sake of your own learning and growth.
A life well lived is a life that allows us to get out of our own way, sometimes through challenging experiences. Jarred out of complacency, our limited views of ourselves (and others) are shattered, we become teachable again.
My friend encouraged me to fully allow in the confusion, the pain and whatever I wished to run away from. From there, as my perspective and my heart grew larger and larger, I felt a renewed sense of belonging to something larger than myself.
Last Spoiler alert : « That’s the thing about pain. It demands to be felt. » ( Gus, from « The fault in our stars » )
2017 brought uncomfortable, humbling moments. And truly enlightening ones.
I can only be grateful.