Do you have a central thought that you start your morning with and that you keep repeating to yourself throughout the day, especially in times when you are anxious or worried or angry or hurt? Today, I started with the thought: I want to be the best version of myself. And believe you me, that was the last thing I was. Sometimes, I wonder how a good and inspiring moment can turn sour or wrong with just a single argument or hurtful saying. Have you ever wondered how life takes on a very beautiful and smooth turn when you are happy and content? And how the moment can turn dark when thoughts become bitter? It is in such moments that the power of the mind becomes so evident. We can choose to be happy or burdened. If only there were ways to create sentinels to stand at the gateway of our minds, they would know what is good for us and what we can turn away. Happy thoughts? Yes, you can come in. Hurt, stay out. Joy, please enter. Arguments, no way can you have access. But it does not work that way. There are no sentinels, there are no guardians, no angels even. Just us. Just me. This is when the tools we have in our yoga belt come to the rescue. The contents of the tool belt, which I proudly wear, vary for each of us, but there are some essentials that help get us through most situations.
As a gardener, I love using the garden as a metaphor for yoga, and vice versa. I carry my sharp snips, in my gardener’s belt, essential to cut flowers and dead head. This light-weight utensil is very sharp and probably the most useful tool to have. In the broader yogic sense, I would say this is the awareness. We all have some sort of mental snips we carry around, but to put it to use we need to know which thoughts to cut, which to dead head and when. An ever-developing consciousness will tell us when something is ripe, worth pursuing or just dead. I also have rubber-bands or pieces of cord to tie up and fix flowers that have drooped because of wind or rain. These have to be the fun part of life for sure, or have you never ever fired spitballs at your friends using rubber bands in school? These are the rescue remedy drops of life. Think of jokes, think of funny videos, think of absurd moments when you laughed and laughed and felt alive. I, particularly today, think of Baubo, the Greek mythological goddess of obscenity, and how she through her ribald jokes and lewd dances made Demeter, who was mad with grief from the loss of her daughter, Persephone, laugh again, and finally led Demeter discover where Persephone was hidden. There is a certain freedom in ribald jokes, a laughter that is both embarrassing and liberating. So, use these as well, like the rubber bands and many situations will become lighter, but please use your belly-laugh when you do. Then there is my phone. I use the camera on the phone a lot to take pictures of the flowers, the plants, the sunlight on the dew drops, the bees hovering over the open-lipped salvia, the petals of the fringed cosmos double-click. I use the camera to share and mostly to document. What was the progress? How did it grow? Like a journal, one might say. Yoga asanas do the same, each time we practice we get in touch with ourselves and we are taking notes, comparing them. How do I feel? Is my practice making my feel more and more at ease with my body. Am I documenting and keeping a chart, noting down what works and what doesn’t? The last item is of course the belt itself. That which holds all the tools together and what is it in our life but the breath itself. We only need to breathe and everything will fall in place.
So, I use the tools when life is not quite what I thought it would be, and it is a good thing too. Challenges are stepping stones for us to grow into our potentials. I, particularly, would like to use the rubber-bands today, a joke or two, a dance, a belly shake is just what I am up to.
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