Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. [2Co 1:3 RSV]
Some days what I see right in front of me are challenges and when I attempt to see beyond them anxiety empties me and I am filled with lethargy. I can choose to go with this feeling, to sit in self-absorbing distress in front of the TV with a bag of chips. And believe me, I have done this. Or, I can turn to what I know is true. Love.
Another word for Comfort is Contentment – Santosha is the Sanskrit word for contentment and is one of the Niyamas (rules of behavior) in the eight limbs of yoga. It means finding peace within you when outer experience causes distress. The big things, like losing a loved one or loss of a job or home can be overwhelming and comparably small things like financial difficulty, conflict at home or work or just having way too much on our plate create emotional and physical pain. Even the anticipation of these creates dis-contentment. What it is within me that can bring relief? “To be or not to be” content is really the question.
It is interesting that in New Testament Scripture (NIV) Jesus never used the word “comfort”. He does use the word “Love” 217 times. “Love God , Love your neighbor, Love your enemy” are foremost in his direction. He goes on with stories of what that looks like. It is the decision to Love God and not money, it is the generosity of sharing loaves and fish, and it is the help toward healing of the Samaritan. It is in His example to go into the garden or up on the mountain alone to pray that I find my direction.
In the quiet space and time of meditation I focus on Love. I use it as a mantra along with “peace be still” (Mark 4:39 ) to slow my breath and busy mind. Here I come to the truth of Love. Love is not always comfortable but it always comforts and God’s love fills my empty spaces with light so that I can see there is nothing in the present or future that can’t be healed. I remember with gratitude those who have and will help me and I am inspired to be a help of Love to others. Peace and contentment fill me now, for this day.
May you find peace and contentment this week.
Everything is wet….rain and more rain creating soggy ground and it seems a mushy brain and body. Still, the new plantings in the garden grow taller by the minute and their greens become greener. Droplets glisten on their leaves. For me a time to sit and read, clean out a closet and take a nap. . A rainy day can be splendid after a week of hot dry days. But a rainy week?? After a few days I become lazy, I feel too tired to take on any chores or read (as that seems to send me directly to nap-time).
I made an attempt, really I did. In the yoga studio I practiced sun salutations with the intention of warming up my inner being, getting that light to shine from within. I forced myself to tidy up some spaces and prepare for upcoming events, but the things I usually like to do were onerous. And on this particular Sunday I attended the funeral of a long-time family friend.
Now this week of rain seems different. It is still wet and even soggier in the garden but the plants are not complaining. Perhaps they know that warmer, drier days will be coming so they drink it all in now. Death reminds us of our terminal physical nature and a funeral in the rain seems appropriate. The hearts of those who remain are waterlogged with grief yet still full of wonderful memories and blessings for having known such a man.
There is no controlling the weather; there is no keeping back the rain, or the tears. Our physical mortality eventually claims us. . There is a time for everything and in the every things a time for us to drink it all in. Learn lessons, clean out the closets, take a nap and wait, for the sun will come out. Life has changed as it is always doing and I can choose to turn my face to the rain, slosh my feet in the puddles or take a nap. Whichever I choose, I pray to do it with an awareness of the blessings that arrive even when the rain keeps coming. At the end of the day it is my faith in God that opens my eyes to the blessings of the rain, the continuity of life in changing seasons and the hope of life eternal.
May you have a blessed week no matter the weather.
Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18
Do you ever wish someone would just come to their senses and do the right thing? Do you ever think that about yourself? I know that many times I do not. I can be quick to point the finger away from myself and slow to turn the wrist the other way. What’s up with that? Finger pointing is not a yoga pose, nor is it helpful in relationships. A very famous and humble teacher once said, “Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you.” Matthew 7:1-2
Sensibility is the coming to know your-self and how we see that self in our relationship with the world and with others. It is also awareness of our presence in a space and time. When I am excessively occupied with activities, things-to-do and worry, my sense of self is diminished. I separate myself from what is present and important, from people and from God.
Every time I teach a yoga class we begin by creating awareness. We feel and deepen our breath; we feel our feet or bottom on the floor. We begin to feel – become sensitive to the space we are in. It is a part of what I have been studying in Gestalt Pastoral Care courses that demonstrate how we hold wounds, physical and emotional in parts of our body. And in our human nature to protect our image of self we bury the hurt, the shame or the fear. We get busy or overeat or use substances to entomb the feelings.
So often in my own Gestalt work I come to the truth that the flaws I see in others are present in my own wounds. In the practice of yoga the asana (poses) opens areas of the body we hold closed much of the time. The breath combined with movement may bring about feelings or sensations that rise to our awareness. The time of meditation opens space to experience internal and external sensations. We become sensitive to our inner being and can explore our self while God’s grace meets us there.
When I practice this, a light of compassion always rises in the morning of my soul. Others become mirrors for me instead of irritations, and I learn. Yet still I avoid or distract myself and a reminder comes that urges me to get out the mat and get to work.
This week I pray you are open to your senses, all of them. And that you find your-self growing to find peace and compassion for yourself and others.
I am not flexible. That is not really true. As a yoga teacher I have greatly improved my physical flexibility with practice and patience. But if I look at myself compared to others, specifically other yoga teachers, children, those who are double jointed or acrobatically inclined, I am not flexible. There is much more to this though and if I look through the narrow lens of body image and ego I make judgments about myself that serve only to hinder my growth.
I am flexible. At the age of 60 I can move into poses I could not have done in my twenties. It is work and devotion to keep moving toward growth and includes the knowledge that God strengthens and uplift me to overcoming fear and my own self inflicted limitations.
I am flexible. Through life events and changes I have learned to be flexible in attitudes and beliefs. Change is a good teacher if we allow it to be and God’s grace is always available to help along the way.
This week I will continue my physical practice of flexibility but will also spend time to look in. To seek awareness of how others and my own thoughts and ideas hinder growth. As trees sway in the wind, I hope to sway in the winds of life, firmly rooted and grounded in God’s grace as well as growing tall and strong, remaining flexible.
May your week be filled with flexibility and growth in mind, body and spirit.
Moving through Sun Salutations in my mind and heart, another steps on to the deck to practice. Her mat ready and her mind set on movement of body with focus and intention….she is present.
My mind tends to jump ahead more often than it slips behind but at times the review of events is appealing as well.
Sweeping my arms to the sky with a gaze toward heaven….I know it’s not there.
Diving slowly to surrender is where I find it. Letting go the grip of burdens and attachments in worldly terms there is a peace that enters.
Stepping back to open my heart in acceptance. What is……is. The gifts of release….
To Just Be
Breathing in the Son rise there is nothing left to do or that can be done to enter this state of Grace.
My husband and I are remodeling our house. It is a very old building full of character and the energy of those who have called this place home. As we tear open walls to create our own spaces here we often joke about finding treasure…..or bones. Many past residents have added their own changes but there are still many uncovered and undiscovered places that are original to this 1867 Victorian. There are beams in the walls that still have bark on them from the hand hewn logs that were crafted by the builder.
The original layout of the house is a bit mysterious in places. Large dark Chestnut floor moldings curve gracefully to a dead stop where a wall has been added to create a bathroom. Our latest project is a living room space in what was originally the cook kitchen and adjoining wood shed. An earlier resident had already transformed the space into a den and a bedroom. In the corner of the room is a wall that backs up to the aforementioned bathroom. We thought it a great idea to add a door between them.
Demolition is always messy and with occasional surprises. We pulled down the paneling added by the previous owner then underlying sheet rock added by perhaps another and there it was. A door. Buried within the walls right where we wanted to put one.
Ironically the presence of the door opened up for me realizations of my life as a seeker. In meditation I seek to find that way in to contemplative presence with God. When sharing this door story with my yoga class a student Ann pointed out that the door is the treasure! It is indeed!
How much are we like this home! We are old enough for senior discounts, friends and family members have come in and out of our lives. We are full of character and energy built by those relationships. Throughout our lives growing and changing yet still the same cells and structure formed by our creator. There are still things to discover about ourselves and our relationship with God. And here we are, knocking.
For many, September is a new beginning. School begins in many parts of the country and offers a new start. For students, teachers and parents everything is new again. New pencils, papers and attitudes will hopefully make a difference this school year.
Since retirement from the cyclic start and stop of a school year I have continued to experience many do-overs. The most famous being New Year’s Day. What a great opportunity to change my life! This year I pledged to read one book at a time, lose weight, be more compassionate, practice prayer and yoga daily and write in my blog at least once a month. Uh…I give myself a grade of I for incomplete.
Perhaps it is just in our nature. Trying to become someone new and improved is not the same as someone moving towards wholeness. I have been confusing the two. And my tendency as you dear reader may experience is to just want to stay in my “comfort zone” even if it is uncomfortable or unhealthy.
What is the answer?
I am still a seeker but these things I know.
- Change is hard and it takes consistent focus on the goal. “If you don’t know where you are going, you’ll end up someplace else” Yogi Berra.
- It takes work and drive; “The point is this: the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sow bountifully will also reap bountifully” 2 Cor 9:6
- It takes faith. “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” Hebrews 11:1
- It takes acceptance. Sometimes the goals we set and our best intentions are interrupted by life. Those unexpected twists and turns that make life a journey of learning can postpone or even halt what we viewed as “the goal”
- Faith in God who makes all things new. No matter what our plans are, God can turn them upside down to teach us something better. “And we know that all things work together and are for good to and for those who love God and are called according to his design and purpose” Romans 8:28
So today is a new day to start over. Focused on my goals yet with the wisdom to know they could change I strive on. I write today, read and practice yoga. Realizing I get the opportunity to keep trying unlike the poor salmon headed upstream who only gets one chance.
“God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Unknown