If you have ever taken one of my yoga classes, you have undoubtedly heard me share the wisdom of Erma Bombeck, Joseph Campbell, and Henry Miller, at one point or another. They are the authors of my all-time favorite inspirational quotes, and I share them with my students, as reminders to stay on the yogic path.
Yoga teaches us that we must cultivate awareness, if we hope to live a purposeful life. Henry Miller summed it up best when he said, “The aim of life is to live, and to live means to be aware. Joyously, drunkenly, serenely, divinely aware.”
Joyously. Drunkenly. Serenely. Divinely. Could Mr. Miller have picked more yogic adjectives? I love the idea that staying present can make us happy (joyous), overcome with emotion (drunken) and peaceful (serene) all at once. Divinely has several definitions–it can mean “godlike” or “to a great degree”, so I guess that one is open to interpretation. I think of being “divinely aware” as trying to see the world through God’s eyes, with clarity and compassion. We are all perfectly imperfect, so I think being divinely aware is about finding beauty within imperfection. This is what yoga teaches us–to pay attention, and make the best of whatever comes our way.
Joseph Campbell touches on another, equally important yogic teaching. He observes that “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”
The most powerful lessons I have learned on my mat, and in life, have appeared when I surrender, instead of fight, what life has to offer. It’s good and right to make plans, but we must also make ourselves available to new possibilities. More often than not, God’s plans are better than our own.
And then there is the lovely Erma Bombeck, who inspired me to return to practicing and teaching yoga, after delivering three children in three years. I had stopped teaching when our third daughter, Luli, arrived, because I was exhausted.
In my heart, however, I knew it was a mistake. Somehow, not practicing and not teaching was even harder than practicing and teaching, because I was not using my talents. It made me feel lost, like a part of my soul had gone missing.
I finally realized why I felt so conflicted, when I stumbled on this quote in a gift shop in the Blue Ridge Mountains: “When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have not a single bit of talent left, and I could say…I used everything you gave me.”
It made me realize that I had not been using my talents, and I needed to get back to practicing and teaching yoga.
For me, yoga is about learning to surrender to possibility, working diligently to be the best person that I can be, and using everything God gave me to make the world a better place. On my mat, I cultivate awareness, and let go of expectation and judgement, so that the unexpected can emerge. It’s like a dance…the back and forth of letting go, as I explore what is possible. It illuminates how I experience the world around me, and inspires me to keep trying to be better.
These days, I carry Erma, Joseph, and Henry in my heart wherever I go. I hope that they inspire you, as they have inspired me, to let go and live well.
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