Only God could say what this new spirit gradually growing forming within you will be. Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you, and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete.
– Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
My life looks really different than it did just 5 years ago. On the outside, it appears that most everything has changed, except my dog, Rita. I got married and stopped working as a pastor. I stopped my professional life, in general. Now I have two kids, sit in the pew on Sunday & make a grocery list, teach yoga, meet friends at the library for storytime, and spend more time cooking & cleaning than I would have ever chosen, in and of myself.
Obviously, these external changes have significantly reshaped my internal life as well. I think about things differently, have different priorities, prayers, and dreams. All that being said, I still feel like ME on the inside. Just a me that is interested in new things, letting go of some old ways I just don’t need anymore, and deciding which paths seem right for the time being.
This past Thursday, The Daily Series class started. It’s a five week class I am offering that goes deeper into yoga through the 8 Limbs; a framework for a daily, whole life practice of yoga, on & off the mat. The first limb is the Niyamas, which is about maintaining life-giving and righteous relationships with others and your environment. I encouraged the class to choose one of the niyamas as a focus, or mantra, for the week. I chose “aparigraha”; freedom from possessiveness or “loose grip”. I have noticed that when a family member or friend is upset with me or is just in an off mood, I don’t easily let go of their mood, even when they have moved on. I continue to relate to them for a while as if they are still agitated or sad. So I’m practicing relating to people with fresh eyes, not holding on tightly to their passing emotions.
And I am practicing aparigraha with myself and my ever-changing life. I can easily criticize and doubt myself for changing my mind, getting interested in one thing and then quickly be interested in another. I’m figuring things out, trying things on and deciding if they fit or not.
Saurday, February 1st is the next Daily Bread Yoga retreat at Philo Presbyterian. The focus of the day will be on our CORE; that region of your body right in the middle that we too often stress about looking a certain way. Our core is made up of many overlapping & interwoven connective tissues, going in all directions, wrapping up and around our whole body to keep us together as a person. It isn’t one lone muscle that you strengthen by doing 50 sit ups a day. And so it is with our “core” as a person; who we see ourselves to be now and who we might become. We are not just one role, but a dynamic, overlapping, interwoven, complex identity of many evolving and changing parts. If we only focus on one muscle of our “core”, we become painfully out of balance and lose the strength of the other important connective layers that hold us together and make us a human being.
So, maybe practice holding on with a loose grip, if that feels right for you these days. Aparigraha. Try flexing some other layers and unexpected sides of yourself to strengthen your core. Loosen your grip on yourself. It’s still YOU.
If you are interested in the Feb. 1st retreat or any other classes I’ll be offering this winter & spring, I’d love to hear from you. Or if you have any questions or comments, funny jokes, a good recipe for granola bars would be greatly appreciated.
Peace on your head,