The Good Kind of Emptiness
By Laura Mills
With Thanksgiving approaching, many of us are probably thinking about where we’re going, whom we’ll see, what we’ll wear, and what we’ll do the day after. And maybe we’re also relishing how the holiday will be an opportunity to slow our lightning-paced lives and recall the blessings that enrich them. While such activities and remembrances are sweet, this year I challenge all of us to add one more item to our holiday festivities: consideration of the things that are NOT part of our lives.
Think of the locations around the world in which you do not live, for example. Then think of the times in history during which you were not born. Consider your life situation—the many challenges you never had to face, the illnesses and conditions you never had to deal with, the surprises that never turned your life upside down in an instant. Consider all the choices you never had to make, the tears you never cried. And consider so, so much more that never touched your life.
This Thanksgiving, in addition to enumerating our blessings, let’s remember how unfortunate we are NOT. Then we can raise our glasses higher and bow our heads more deeply in the spirit of even more profound gratitude.
THIS PLACE OF MINE BY GUEST BLOGGER LAURA MILLS
October 12, 2010 This Place of Mine.... (Thoughts of a Beginning Yoga Teacher) By Laura Mills
The need to put things in their place is what initially drew me to yoga. After some difficult years during which my life's flow drastically changed course, yoga proved itself a paddle with which I continued sailing forward. Yoga felt right; it made ME feel right, or at least more right than before...which made pursuing my teaching credentials feel especially right, so I could ultimately help others do the same.
And so, eager to teach others about re-establishing life's peace--about putting things in their place--I immersed myself in a teacher training program. And then, sooner than expected, a teaching opportunity arose, and into my first class I jumped. I'm glad it all happened quickly; if I had had more time to think before I accepted the commitment, I likely would have talked myself out of it. And true to my nature, after I accepted I struggled daily with the thought, "What have I gotten myself into?" Terrified, I wrote my first class, then practiced it at least once a day for an entire week. I mentally rehearsed it again and again. I even took the class plan to bed with me.
Was this what "right" should feel like?
The morning of the class I woke up sick-to-my-stomach nervous, and throughout the early hours I forced myself to stay busy at the risk of otherwise panicking. In fact, up to the moment the class began I focused so intently on NOT panicking that I can't explain too much else of what happened that day--all I know is that after the class I felt a surge of relief. And exhilaration, for it had gone well...which surprised me, because again true to my nature I had expected something to go wrong. Still, even with my initial happiness, afterwards I mentally replayed the class: did I cue everything correctly? Did I make eye contact? Did I speak clearly? Was my music too loud? What's landscape vision again? Was this really the right course for my life?
As my second, third, fourth and subsequent classes passed with the same anxieties and the same questions, something else emerged: a new dimension to the respect I held for my own yoga teachers. The effort in sequencing a class, the thought in developing a theme, the creativity in compiling a playlist...the amount of work involved, which I now undertook myself, revealed my teachers' love of and dedication to the practice. The thought of all they had done for me as their student humbled me. But even more than that, my realization of their faith inspired me anew...faith that, at some point, a teacher just has to let go of each class and trust that she or he has prepared enough and the rest will somehow come together.
The anxieties and the questions began to diminish...a little.
And then, a bit further along, an old feeling arose within me--a really, really good feeling that felt stronger with each class. I hadn't felt it in a long time, but here it was, back again. I recognized it when I realized I felt more excitement than nervousness before class; I recognized it when I realized I greatly looked forward to interacting with my students, many of whom I now knew by name. I recognized it when I realized I wasn't just another yoga teacher working with just another group of students, but part of a unique and beautiful yoga studio family.
And, I recognized it when I realized I was totally overwhelmed with blessings. With my attention lately so focused on yoga, my yoga-related blessings in particular were in mind.... My yoga teachers who enriched my practice and inspired me; my fellow trainees who shared so many of their gifts; my students who put their faith in me to guide them through each practice, each class; my husband who supported me in every possible way on my yoga journey. And God, the Universe, the Divine Being, who made certain that yoga and yoga teaching found me, and thus put me in my place...which is, in light of all this I am growing more certain, the right one.
Wishing you peace in recognizing your place, Laura
PERSPECTIVE: YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR LIFE IS UP TO YOU!
OCTOBER 24, 2009: “Awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.” (John O’Donohue) What an amazing practice and I thank each of you from 9:15am for your honest beautiful sharing related to how you see the world and what you are grateful for right now. I mentioned how in talking to a friend I had said to them “gosh I am so lucky, then they responded that they felt lucky too. And together we then created this feeling of gratitude for each others friendship. Our perspective was that we were fortunate to know each other in this moment and by recognizing and seeing the other we were both totally present.
This yogic practice discussed in Chapter 2:26 “The means of attaining cessation is the unceasing vision of discernment” challenges each of us to SEE what is HERE right now in front of us and INSIDE us. However, we often go so fast speeding up life or making unimportant things important that we can’t hear the secrets of our own hearts from the inside and as a result are blind the blessings in front of us.
We can even have a perspective of majoring in minor stuff!
When we do this it means we are clinging to a singular view and we end up limiting ourselves from seeing what is before us. Judith Lasater in her book Living Your Yoga says it like this “Enlightenment in fact is nothing more and nothing less than a radical change in perspective. Life will continually challenge us. If we pay attention those challenges can broaden our perspective.” So this means that if our perspective is one where there is only one “right answer” or one singular outcome and then this doesn’t happen we feel like a failure. The reality is that none of us can control the outcome of any situation and whatever happens happens and if its hard well then use that challenge to broaden your perspective.
On the mat that’s why we move and breath and then we pause to step back and reevaluate. As much as I love being in the water, swimming around we all have to come up for air. Funny thing is that when you are the bottom of a pool looking up through the water it is a totally different perspective than when you are floating on top of the water looking up at the heavens. So your life is as it is, how you feel about your life is up to you, no matter what life is serving you for dinner tonight.
“May all that is unlived in you blossom into a future graced with love!” Own your perspective live in love, Silvia
WHAT WOULD YOU NAME TODAY - THE 10 BLESSINGS GAME
OCTOBER 7, 2009: We start with a sweet exercise called “The 10 Blessings” by Dr William Holden. It goes like this, look over the last week of your life and write down 10 blessings you experienced in the last seven days. It’s not much to ask because all we need to do is find one blessing per 16.8 hours of life. And if you think about 10 ways you blessed others lives that’s consciously thinking of goodness every 8.4 hours. Now do the math and consider if you could somehow multiply that by 2 so you think of 40 things every week: 20 blessings received and 20 blessings offered that’s something every 2.1 hours.
This helps us keep the focus on the important questions like: How can you enjoy the miracle of existence today? How can I enjoy this moment more?
The more you are willing to enjoy the moment the more beautiful each moment of your life will be. Essentially it means you are choosing life. And life only happens one moment at a time. The more you give yourself to each moment, the more each moment gives something back to you! Please starting now don’t miss a thing! Think about waking up to your life and start naming your day something beautiful! Love and light, Silvia
“Awaken to the mystery of being here
And eneter the quiet immensity of your own presence.
Have joy and peace in the temple of your senses.
Receive encouragement when new frontiers beckon.
Respond to the call of your gift and the courage to
follow it’s path.
May warmth of heart keep your presence aflame.
May anxiety never linger about you.
May your outer dignity mirror an inner dignity of
Take time to celebrate the quiet miracles that seek
May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven
Around the heart of wonder.”
Navajo prayer to enjoy
“Happily may I walk.
May it be beautiful before me.
May it be beautiful behind me.
May it be beautiful below me.
May it be beautiful above me.
May it be beautiful all around me.
It beauty, it is finished.”
Hi You Guys,
I want to thank you for all the amazing conversations I have each day with you. Please keep the emails and calls coming. I thoroughly enjoy every interaction! And I wanted you to know that I recognize what it takes to reach out. I see the effort on your part to talk, to get to class, to write a note. Every single one of us matters. Sometimes we think we don’t but we truly do matter. And I am paying total attention.
Yoga teaches us that we are all looking for something that will connect us more deeply to ourselves and through that knowing the truth of the spirit self (Atman) there is a recognition that we all leave an imprint on everyone we meet. When you think of it, in all the random meetings we have with folks each day we can be the ANSWER or BLESSING for another person. That’s a powerful responsibility.
What imprint are you making on the world? What is your legacy? Can you take five minutes today to make a conscious effort to consider how you can connect to others in such a way that you can make a positive difference? I would love for you to join me for FREE tomorrow night July 9th, 7:30pm-9pm for Yoga and Journaling where we’ll have time to reflect on the things we’ve done this week to uplift another person (an email, a call, a card, a compliment, giving up your parking space etc). This time to meditate on how we effect others, the “ripple effect” speaks to our greater Intention or personal mission statement. And every time we align better with our intentions we magnify our efforts. Moving the body and then journaling is a wonderful way to connect to our true desires, passions and dreams!
You deeply inspire me, your life stories make me cry, make me laugh, humble me to no end. And for all of that I thank you for letting me serve you. Love yourself, love your day, love your life! Silvia (2009)
MARCH 10, 2009: Inhaling we breath in the gift of the universe, life itself. Exhaling with gratitude for this gift.
By focusing on your body and the life giving air you breath into it, you will help to heal your life as a by-product. It is the easiest way to give thanks for our many blessings. When we are worried our breathing changes and we often become short of breath, denying the most important blessing of all. Our life giving breath. Today we won the lotto of life! Not everyone was chosen to breath today so let us give thanks and really really mean it.
Emerson put it like this, “Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God for it as a cup of blessing.”