As human beings, all of us experience unexpected interruptions and events in our everyday lives. Those of us who practice yoga hear stories shared by teachers who find wisdom in everyday reality, whether it be a tragic event or merely a mundane, irritating one. I spent a blissful five day meditation retreat with my teacher Harshada Wagner entitled Wild Heart, Quiet Mind. We spent our time examining our deepest, truest natures in the depth of the wild heart. I loved closing my eyes after gazing at the sky, the lake or at the deep green leaves on the trees, and returning from the guided meditations noticing the amazing beauty surrounding me in each moment. It was a joyful retreat week, where all of our basic needs were being met. Wonderful meals were available, and my daily routines were simplified. I knew my dog was being well taken care of, even enjoying his own retreat week away with friends at the beach and his doggie pal. My five days on retreat melted together as we spent time in community: awaken, walk in nature, asana practice, breakfast, meditation session, lunch, afternoon meditation, including outdoor meditation and awareness practices (swimming, kayaking, canoeing, and lying in the hammock) by the lake, dinner and final evening meditation.
Fundamentally, it’s a paradigm shift that Harshada describes. The old model, upon which many of us were raised, is that life is hard, punctuated by moments of joy. The new paradigm, that yoga teaches us in every moment, is that life is joy, punctuated by moments of forgetfulness. Following the retreat, my bliss filled state continued for three more perfect, wonderful days. Then, upon returning home Monday afternoon, I was eager to dive into some work, and found my home wifi service completely non existent. I immediately chalked it up to the effects of Mercury in retrograde, which effects communication, and many computer related issues. Since learning about this planetary phenomenon about ten years ago, I’m never really surprised how things like this happen, yet I didn’t expect to get so rattled and so forgetful quite so quickly.
In the scheme of things, I was very conscious this was not a big deal. I still had internet service on my phone. But in my punctuated moments of forgetfulness, dealing with a cable company I will not name, I allowed myself to be pulled out of joy completely. I could feel the anger taking over my body, which felt wrong and unfamiliar even as I tried to breathe. The way the situation continued to unfold worsened. Customer service was horrendous, and trying to reschedule an erroneous appointment led to an additional delay of two more days. Joy was not on my radar and I really lost it on the phone with the company, which I regret.
My forgetfulness lasted a total of about twelve hours, including an awful sleepless night. I worried about the details I had to take care of, the emails and the newsletter and all the stuff that would be delayed without wifi. But within that time, as difficult as it was, I breathed, I told myself it would all work out, and even saw the opportunity for the teaching as it was unfolding.
I shifted early Tuesday morning starting with meditation, and then took a long walk with my dog down to the Hudson river pier which also has a view of the city skyline. I marveled at how three days earlier I had been eighty miles north looking at the very same river from a completely different, rural perspective. I remembered how amazing the retreat had been, as well as the following special three days, and how fortunate I am to have the life that I do. Then I took a wonderful yoga class, which got me out of my head, into my body, and back into remembrance and joy. I also got some much needed rest in savasana after my sleepless night. There will always be something, and small inconveniences like faulty wifi will get fixed. There have been, and always will be big, life shattering events. How can we skillfully navigate them? By practicing, again and again, on the yoga mat and off, and noticing the joy in each moment.
As I finish writing this, I have wifi once again. The moments of forgetfulness have passed. This practice is always deepening, and I’m grateful for my teachers, as well as for these experiences. The little things and the big things, the unexpected events will continue to occur, so how can we practice remembrance of all the joy and beauty that life has to offer? 1. Take a deep breath. The breath reminds us of what’s going right in your body at this very moment. 2. Connect with nature, by going for a walk, looking at the sky, a body of water, or at something green. 3. If you have a pet, give them some attention, see how they are always in the moment and grateful for your presence. 4. Smile or say hello to someone or their animal on the street, and connect with their aliveness. 5. Drink a room temperature glass of water-most of us are dehydrated. 6. Remember that this challenging moment or experience will end, it is simply life being punctuated by moments of forgetfulness, and the joy will return.
Retreat is an amazing way to dive more deeply than ever into your practice. Join me January 26 through February 2 in beautiful Nosara, Costa Rica for Yoga and the Five Elements. We will practice yoga and meditation in nature and experience the rich, untouched beauty along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica at Blue Spirit Retreat Center. Early pricing ends August 3 so please contact me to reserve your spot and with any questions: email@example.com.
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