Where did October go? Obviously I missed it, as I made a whopping ONE post all month. I’m embarrassed to report that my lack of updates is reflective of my lack of success with my intention. I started out well, reading a bit from The Secret of the Yoga Sutra by the teacher of my teachers Pandit Rajmani Tigunait every morning. I even shared some readings in my classes, something I don’t do often, but realized how welcome and dually beneficial it is. But alas, life happened, I got busy (lazy), and my vow to read some part of some sacred text everyday quickly deteriorated. I stayed relatively true to my mantra & meditation practice, so the month was not a total loss. No excuses, but every year around this time my teaching schedule is in full blast, I am rehearsing for a half-dozen or so projects, and I am rapidly approaching a breaking point. I’ve lost sleep and weight, and there have been many moments when I would give anything to curl up on the couch, watch a familiar movie, and have my mom make me tomato soup and grilled cheese. In short, it’s been a rough month. Good thing November’s focus is Ishvara Pranidhana, or surrender to god.
GOD?!? Yes, I said it… the g-word. True, it has taken me some time to get comfortable using this word, especially in yoga, as any speak of religion or even spirituality can push some people’s buttons. For me, god is not a religious word. It is a symbol, a place-holder, a fill-in-the-blank for whatever you (YOU) want to put there. You could say God, Allah, the universe, the stars, the spirit guides, whatever. Me? I consider myself an atheist with Buddhist tendencies. I won’t take the space to explain what I mean by that, because it doesn’t matter. Believe what you want, worship who/what/where/how you want. Pray, meditate, chant, wish, light a fire, paint your naked body and dance in the rain. I don’t care what you do and I don’t expect you to care what I do. The point is to just do something, and do it with all your heart. That something may be nothing, which is absolutely fine. Ishvara Pranidhana is about letting go, putting your (gasp!) faith into something that might be a little bigger and wiser than you, whether it’s a deity, a celestial being, karma, or luck.
Gratitude is the kryptonite to complaining.
Surrendering takes trust. It means knowing (or not knowing, but still doing it) that whatever you’re going through – good, bad, or ugly – will pass. We all come out on the other side, wherever that is, maybe a little stronger, maybe a little worse for the wear; but we come out. Part of that trust is gratitude, thanking your god for taking care of you, no matter what, maybe in advance. Gratitude is the kryptonite to complaining. If you have something to be thankful for, everything else looks a little rosier. So, not coincidently, this being the month of Thanksgiving, I will practice Ishvara Pranidhana by finding one thing for which to be grateful everyday. Don’t worry, I won’t invade your Facebook feed with the popular “30 Days of Gratitude” stuff, posting pictures of my tuna sandwich at lunch and calling that my practice. It’s a lovely idea, but my intent is not to broadcast or brag about my fortune (and we are ALL fortunate). I will simply write down one thing each day for which I feel thankful, fold it up, and put it in a jar. Maybe I’ll bow my head in gratitude, then move on with my day. I’ve heard of people doing this ritual, then a year later going back to read the words they wrote, so maybe I’ll do that too. I’m not quite sure what the outcome of this practice will be, but my guess is that it will make the hard stuff a little easier to swallow. We ALL have our shit. Life is tough, sometimes it downright sucks, but oftentimes it is just as beautiful, even if we don’t see it that way. Surrender and gratitude are tools to shift one’s vision, not to ignore or deny hardships, but to just color them with the good stuff so life looks a little nicer. Join me if you like!
Now please enjoy this stock photo of me and another small Asian girl showing gratitude for our obscenely bright clothing. Today, I am thankful that I got over that haircut.