This month I am reflecting on how yoga has at its core a very simple, yet hard to practice teaching of being fully present and awake at this moment. The poet Mark Nepo writes:
“The further I wake into this life, the more I realize that God is everywhere and the extraordinary is waiting quietly beneath the skin of all that is ordinary. Light is in both the broken bottle and the diamond, and music is in both the flowing violin and the water dripping from the drainage pipe. Yes, God is under the porch as well as on top of the mountain, and joy is in both the front row and the bleachers if we are willing to be where we are.”
The call is for us to ask ourselves: “How often am I willing to be where I am?” It’s too common that we live under the influence of what the Buddhist teacher and psychologist, Tara Brach, calls the “trance of not enough.” We enter into this trance in many ways, one of which is how we all, from time to time, get caught in the “if only’s.” For example, you may catch yourself in an internal dialogue that sounds something like- “things will be better if only I got that promotion…” or “if only I could get into that yoga pose…”, or “I would be happy if only I got that project done…”
The outcome is that we continually put our genuine happiness on hold in our search for things that may provide us with some short-term satisfaction, but may ultimately be existentially empty. Additionally, we may soon discover that we have been postponing our happiness in vain because often as soon as we complete one project, we are already off to the races in pursuit of the next one.
I want to be clear that my message is not that you “should” stop achieving or giving your all toward your goals, it is more about being able to recognize when the striving takes you away from the moment and away from those you love. The message is to notice when you are missing the beauty that is right in front of you because you’re already in tomorrow’s meetings.
So this brings me back to my intention as I celebrate and do my best to move through March more consciously. I intend to practice contentment. The primary way in which I will offer myself to this practice is to notice when I get ahead of myself, and to take a breath, and to provide myself with a few kind words such as “this moment is perfect, I am perfect, and this is the joy.” From this place of joy, contentment, and acceptance, I know I will then see each step forward.
In closing, Fr Gregory Boyle writes that “we keep moving, walking forward on the Good Journey, finding moments of joy along the way until those moments join together and usher in a life of happiness. So what we focus on and hope for, in the meantime, is a commitment to abide fully in our complete humanity. We bring as much compassion and wakefulness to our own lived experience and know that nothing human is ever abhorrent to God.”
As we move forward through March, let us all take one step forward at a time and remember that joy is the journey and the only time we can taste it is now.
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