Through practice, I’ve come to see that the deepest source of my misery is not wanting things to be the way they are. Not wanting myself to be the way I am. Not wanting the world to be the way it is. Not wanting others to be the way they are. Whenever I’m suffering, I find this war with reality to be at the heart of the problem.” -Stephen Cope
This is the season of Thanksgiving and everyone is expected to bury all the things that are bothering them and just focus on that for which you are grateful.
Ugh! This might explain why everyone eats and drinks so much on Thanksgiving – all those squashed feelings
Now don’t get me wrong – I have a list of things I am thankful for – but I also have things that I am unhappy about.
Like feeling sad that I am unable to share the upcoming holiday with certain living (and passed) loved ones.
Holiday memories can be helpful and hurtful at the same time. This is where staying in the moment, and accepting things as they are can morph a sad moment into a more peaceful one.
Are there things you can accept about yourself, your friends/family and the world that could bring you more peace this holiday?
I am trying to accept that I will not be with my children for Thanksgiving again because they will be with my ex. And although I have no desire to take a plane to rural Florida for the holiday – I would rather be with them anywhere - then be without them.
But this is my life now. I am divorced, I am a single mother and my life and holiday experiences have changed as a result. Some for the worse and some for the better.
Accepting where I am, in this moment, has been an excellent appetizer for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday. Setting an intention of contentment during yoga practice has helped me find some peace - when otherwise I would have squashed my negative feelings. Now maybe I can genuinely focus on what I am thankful for this year.
Last Thanksgiving I was also without my kids - and to work through my sadness - I took a Gratitude yoga class at a local yoga studio. Then I spent my first Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and a friend’s family that had also experienced a tumultuous year.
This year I will be teaching a Gratitude yoga class at the West Chester YMCA Airport Road branch (8 AM Thursday). And I will be cooking Thanksgiving dinner with aforementioned boyfriend and his family.
Some things have definitely changed for the better - and for that I am truly thankful.
“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” - Reinhold Niebuhr
Wishing you and yours a peaceful and joyous Thanksgiving!!
Let the light into the wounds
“They say that nobody is perfect. Then they tell you practice makes perfect. I wish they’d make up their minds.” – Winston Churchill
Boy this week has been a tough week to practice what we preach. The unexpected presidential win of Donald Trump threw me for a loop. I was stunned by the outcome.
I like to think of myself as an enlightened sort. Adjectives I use to describe myself include:
I was viscerally furious about the win. How could anyone vote a man so clearly unfit (and apparently racist and sexist) into the Oval Office? For any reason?
So I liked every Nazi/Trump post I saw on social media and considered unfriending anyone I knew who voted for Trump – even though they have an absolute right to vote in line with their beliefs.
And I think that has been the hardest part of all of this. Because of this experience, I actually adopted behaviors that I usually find distasteful.
Now maybe this is just evidence of my grief at the election outcome. But that still doesn’t excuse my quick adoption of hateful tactics.
And based on my Facebook and Twitter feed, I am not alone.
We yogis are mostly a loving sort. We believe the best of people. We see the “glass as half full”, “embrace the road less taken” and “make love not war”. But this week some of us were tested.
And maybe that is the great lesson in all this. It is easy to be peaceful and loving when things are easy. The real test is to be kind and serene when the going gets tough - and all your core beliefs are tested.
The Dalai Lama has been tested repeatedly by many government injustices, but somehow he remains kind and caring to all.
How can we be a source of light when all seems bleak? Buddha says, “Help others. And when you can’t help others, do no harm.”
To that end, I have been working with All 4 Paws Animal Rescue to complete personal reference checks on potential dog adopters. One of my favorite comments from a reference this week was, “Let’s face it – animals are better than most people. People might get on your nerves, but your dog will always be there for you.” (And besides - dogs can’t vote – so they will never disappoint you with their presidential selections.)
One of the dogs that was adopted this week - in a small way because of my reference checks - was Baby Lois (shown below). I can’t tell you how happy that makes me feel!
And I am finding it very helpful to identify things in life for which I am grateful – like my kids, my boyfriend and all my friends.
Finally, I am working to generate the peace that passes all understanding by steadfastly adhering to my breathing and yoga practices - and sharing them with whomever is willing to join me (BTW – in addition to my normal Monday 12:30 PM class I am teaching at the Airport YMCA this Saturday at 11:45 AM and on Thanksgiving Day and Black Friday at 8:00 AM).
Poet Rumi wrote, “The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”
How will you let light into the wounds this election has caused?
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi
Driving down to my boyfriend’s house in Delaware I couldn’t help but notice all the political signs at every stop sign, stop light and intersection. What struck me was that most of the signs were for local politicians. The signs for the national presidential candidates were largely absent. It seems that after all the national campaign drama - the focus has turned toward local politics.
What if we took the same approach to our lives?
If this election season is getting you down, unplug from it all and look to do something locally to make a difference. Volunteer for a local organization that is in line with your beliefs. Send a thank you note or email to someone who has been kind to you. Or take a moment to pay their kindness forward by being helpful or understanding to someone who needs it.
Taking a positive action that reflects your core beliefs might help you feel less helpless about things you cannot control – like the result of our impending national presidential election.
Now this is not always easy. In past election cycles I threw pumpkins in the street and a remote control through a TV to reflect my dissatisfaction with election results. But this year, I am working hard to channel my nervous energy into positive actions (like teaching and writing about yoga and helping with a local animal rescue organization).
I can’t control what other people do, but I can control what I do. I can make a difference in my world by learning from my past and trying to make changes in my behavior and the environment around me. I will fail at times - but will try to learn from those failures - and just keep trying. And hopefully no remote controls will whiz by into another TV on Tuesday night (although it is a bit less expensive to replace them these days).
“We but mirror the world. All the tendencies present in the outer world are to be found in the world of our body. If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him. This is the divine mystery supreme. A wonderful thing it is and the source of our happiness. We need not wait to see what others do.” – Mahatma Gandhi
What will you do to be the change you wish to see in the world?
Author Donna Yates Kling shares favorite quotes and yoga philosophy to hopefully bring mini moments of zen to readers.