That August Feeling
By Laura Mills
No matter how much I complained about school any given year, I always adored the first few days. Early on, I loved entering my classroom, finding my desk and greeting my friends; later, I was always excited to receive each class’s syllabus and meet teachers and professors. Then as a schoolteacher, I eagerly anticipated getting to know new students and parents as well as diving in to fresh material.
I know I’m not alone in my thoughts about August’s end. Whether we ourselves go back to school, or we have kids that do, or we just nostalgically observe the busses lumbering through our neighborhoods, this time of year is abuzz with starting over. Wouldn’t it be great if we could cultivate that positivity—that “first day of school” excitement—for other, more every-day moments?
This year, as the last few days of August pass, I invite all of us to make this our intention. Perhaps it’s far-fetched, the idea of awakening daily as excited as a kindergartener with a new box of crayons, but I don’t think it’s impossible. True…thoughts of work, chores, obligations, appointments, and everything else often dishearten. And yes: it’s usually difficult to be excited about traffic, bills and grocery shopping. But we can start simply. We can consider each day as a whole, at first, and practice seeing each as a chance to start over. With time, positivity may flow more smoothly into a greater number of moments; eventually, the most seemingly insignificant moments may resonate with newness. And from there, our entire perspective may change….
WHY DO YOU THINK THE WAY YOU DO? PERSPECTIVE
FEBRUARY 19, 2010: So today in class some of you are going to think this is the easiest class ever (and you'll blame it on me) and then others of you will think this is the hardest class ever (and blame it on me). And to complicate matters those of you who might think it easy love that and others will think that's just not so good, and those that think it the hardest class ever will call it your favorite class ever while others will rate it as your least favorite. What is this about? Well its about our perspective. In this practice we see our old mental habits and see what areas we are holding ourselves back from forwarding our lives because of self-limiting belief. Time on the mat helps us to contemplate why we think the things we do. Do you, for instance, allow yourself to from time to time refresh the way you think about yourself? It's like wearing the same t-shirt from 8th grade...maybe its time to try something else on? This practice is neither hard or easy it is often our perspective that is making it more or less difficult.
There is this story about The Problem with Human Compassion by Author Shankar Vedantam about why a dog tugs our hearts more than a distressed nation of millions that makes this point about Perspective. "On March 13, 2002, a fire broke out in the engine room of an oil tanker about 800 miles south of Hawaii. There were eleven survivors and the Captain's dog, a terrier named Hokget. The crew were rescued but as the rescuers pulled away they heard a dog barking. The captain's dog had been left behind on the tanker."
So long story made shorter, money, people, energy poured in to save the dog.
"The philosopher Peter Singer once asked if you see a child drowning in a pond - and you would ruin a fine pair of shoes worth $200 if you jumped into the water - would you save the child or save your shoes? Obviously a child's life is worth more than a pair of shoes. But if this is the case, Singer asked, why do large numbers of people hesitate to write checks for $200 to a reputable charity that could save the life of a child. Psychologist Paul Slovic at the University of Oregon asked two groups of volunteers shortly after the Rawandan genocide to imagine they were officials in charge of humanitarian rescue effort. Both groups were told their money could save 4,500 lives at a camp, but one group was told the refugee camp had 11,000 people whereas the other group was told the camp had 250,000 people. Slovic found that people were much more reluctant to spend the money on the large camp than they were to spend the money on the small camp."
So in our poses on the mat we learn about our personal perspectives and can view how we react or respond and whether or not it makes intellectual sense. This gives us the insight to make better choices. To have a more holistic perspective broadens our scope of knowledge so maybe we would want to save 250,000 people and not just the 11,000 if given the choice. We will learn Mandala Namaskar in order to help us find this global view within ourselves.
The other take away is that based in sutra 2.46 we can only really teach what we know, what we have integrated and processed for ourselves in this life. So what you learn on the mat you not only apply in your life but through your actions teach others. This is not a case of do as a I say not as I do. But all I ask is that you join me today and just learn to be conscious of what you say YES to and equally what you say NO to, and why. May all beings everywhere be peaceful and free, Silvia
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