This week I am focusing my summer classes on “wind.” We’ve all gotten to the beach: slugged our chair and bag to the perfect spot, lathered up with sunblock and settled into the comfort of our beach chair or blanket. Then surprise! a good wind kicks up and the sand is stuck all over you. You know you are nodding your head, you’ve been there!
The mind is much like the wind: mysterious, unpredictable, and it can get us in trouble. We think so many thoughts every day but only remember a fraction of them. In yoga we call this ever-moving mind the “chitta vritti” and our practice endeavors to quiet the winds of the mind by marrying our movement with our breath.
I was teaching at Milton Academy one evening this week and I had just gone through this description when suddenly there were fire engines blaring–and not just for a few seconds, it went on for a while. I couldn’t have asked for a better entree! The mind is like those fire engines, always looking for the emergency. It’s not our fault, we evolved that way. As cave men we were always looking for what could take us out, life was so fragile, and our brains haven’t evolved all that much. So it’s a natural thing to see the negative in life and to allow events to feel like they are all emergencies. It makes it that much more important to make some space through our practice to react gracefully or not at all. It’s an act of self awareness to be able to acknowledge this; it’s an ongoing practice.
The yogic principle of non-grasping is hitting home this summer. Aparigraha, or non-grasping, is a yama, or an observance in a yogic lifestyle. This summer I’ve had to let go in two big facets of my life, learning some lessons along the way.
This spring I started working with a new holistically-minded doctor who suggested an elimination diet to heal leaky gut symptoms. Already living gluten free and almost entirely dairy free, I was surprised to learn I had to also give up all sugar, soy and eggs. Eggs! It has been a challenge–kind of like trying to squeeze into a small box–but I have managed to get comfortable in it. And lo and behold there go the annoying health issues I was trying to shake, and a few pounds to boot. So it’s been a reminder that there is really no need to hold onto a certain lifestyle or way of eating simply “because.” And there is joy to be had even without some summer favorites (think pie). I’ve been finding sweetness in carrots, lettuce leaves and other veggies; and I’ve been savoring fruit, most recently every last drop of a juicy cherry. When you slow down to find the delight in foods, well, it’s just delicious even if the selections are limited. It isn’t as bad as it sounds; getting over the fear of starting is the hardest part.
This August we’ll drive our oldest to college and say good-bye. I feel like it’s been a year of grieving, with every sad song on the radio comes a few tears. I’ve been gazing at him asleep in his bed, eating breakfast, doing anything no matter how mundane, just trying to soak it all up. As if I’ve got to remember every moment we have together this summer. I’ve also started to let go of being a hands-on mom–not easy for me! But it’s been fun to watch his wings sprout as he gets ready to fly off. He’s making his own meals, waking himself up every day and getting to work, and organizing himself for the months ahead. It’s hard when it’s your job to step back and let them fly, even if you knew it was in the job description. But when you see how happy and confident your child is, you are reassured it is the right thing to do.
We often are forced to let go, it is often not a choice. It may be a lifestyle or a loved one or something else altogether for you. Just remember it is going to be alright on the other side, that there are unexpected pleasant surprises and rewards ahead, and an indescribable lightness to embrace.