Our way to practice is one step at a time, one breath at a time.~Shunryu Suzuki
The first time I meditated was about six years ago.
I was drawn to meditation by the same aspiration as many people — the desire to feel calmer and happier. I was a medical student at the time, and my life was just too stressful and hectic.
It seemed there was always more to do, more to worry about and no time to reflect. I felt disconnected and dissatisfied.
And then, I got dumped by a man I was madly in love with. I felt like a total failure. I was shaken and incredulous — how could I have wanted something so badly and still have it taken away from me?
I was not used to failure. I was used to setting a goal, laying out the steps and diligently taking them — one at a time — until I got what I wanted. I was under the illusion that with enough effort, I could achieve any goal and sidestep all feelings of pain and discomfort along the way.
Youth is the gift of nature, but age is a work of art.~Stanislaw Jerzy Lec
Fifty is about to slap me in the face. It’s not planning to tap me lightly on the shoulder. Nope, its plan is an epic full on attack of body and mind, beginning with a huge powerful gut busting blow next January, on THAT day.
How do I know? Because I’ve seen the recon team and it isn’t pretty.
But everyone says, “Ah, age is just a number. It’s all about your attitude.”
When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.~Buddhist Proverb
I wasn’t in the best of spirits when I walked into my local yoga studio for class on that blustery Monday evening. A slew of perceived problems, large and small, were spinning through my mind. I felt frustrated, helpless, and most of all, lost.
I wanted direction and guidance; I longed for the smallest bit of certainty that the decisions I’d had to make earlier would be the right ones. And when I considered relaxing and surrendering, I was unable to do either.
I was trying to run away from myself and my troubled mind, but I wasn’t getting anywhere.
Ironically enough, I’d published a post earlier that day about the fact that we all struggle with runaway minds and hearts. I’d written about the ways in which we are tempted to disconnect — to rebel against the love that surrounds us always.
The post emphasized compassion, forgiveness and celebration — all the things I wasn’t offering myself as I began my yoga practice.
Don’t postpone joy until you have learned all of your lessons. Joy is your lesson.~Alan Cohen
Twirling in her pink tutu, slightly tattered and always a little dirty, my niece opens her arms wide, calling for all of us to get up and dance with her. She wants to hold hands while we jump, spin and leap around the room.
She shouts along to the music, reminding each of us that we should be joining in. “Papa sing! It’s your turn Papa!” Panting and out of breath, we try our hardest to match her undying energy.
After the music — she asks for Justin Bieber by name now — starts to fade, she drops our hands and holds out her arms again. “Ok everyone, it’s time for a group hug!”
We haven’t purposely partaken in a group hug for years now, but we oblige because her smile is contagious and her enthusiasm is impossible to tame.
I now see how owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing that we will ever do.~Brene Brown
Do you ever fear that voicing your needs and desires —saying what you want — makes you selfish and will cause people to dislike you?
I used to be terrified of taking a stand for myself — saying “no” or “I don’t want to” or “I disagree.” I was so desperate to fit in and please others that I’d completely forgo my own wishes and innermost needs.
This denial of my truest self probably led to the anorexia I developed at the age of 10 — a disorder that I wouldn’t be able to shake off for 14 years.
Even when I got married, I did so despite my inner voice urging me to wait. Again, I listened to someone else’s wants at the expense of my own. So I said ‘I do,’ feeling slightly sick and knowing that I was walking down the wrong path.
The things you own end up owning you. It's only after you lose everything that you're free to do anything.~Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club
I thought I had it all.
I had a job that paid well and all the perks that went with it. I drove an expensive car and rented a spacious (but overpriced) apartment well-stocked with the latest modern conveniences.
I had a circle of equally high-flying, workaholic acquaintances, and we’d spend what little free time we had downing expensive drinks together in fashionable nightclubs and bars.
Fully occupied with my busy schedule, I never looked up long enough to realize that a cloud of discontent followed me everywhere I went. I also didn’t realize that chasing material excess was simply my subconscious attempt to outrun it.
Judgments prevent us from seeing the good that lies beyond appearances.~Wayne Dyer
I’ve spent the last week brooding over unexpected events that have transpired in my work and personal life, holing myself up in a darkened room contemplating all of the dire consequences said events will have on my present and future.
The same thoughts have been turning somersaults in my mind for hours on end, disrupting my sleep and pushing me to lash out when it’s entirely unnecessary and, sometimes, inappropriate.
In truth, I took situations that were completely neutral and transformed them in my mind to represent all kinds of gloom and doom. I’m beginning to see that jumping to conclusions is something I’m ridiculously good at — something I know needs to change.