Hey guys, I believe in beanstalks.
You know what that means? It means that sometimes I have to take time to close my eyes and envision a “place in my space” where I can climb up really, really high (yeah, like a beanstalk) and I can get a good look at the big picture. Climbing up that beanstalk and looking at my life from that perspective allows me to find lost hope and see from a distance all of the things that make my life rich and full and worth every breath.
Well, I closed my eyes and climbed up that beanstalk recently. It took me to a time in my life when I was a yoga teacher and it reminded me that one of the most difficult challenges for my students was learning to incorporate the breath into their practice. It seems simple enough. We breathe in and we breathe out. It’s an action that we do all day long and it seemingly requires little or no acknowledgment. But it’s actually not that simple. Sometimes our breathing is dictated by our present circumstance. Sometimes our present circumstance is harsh and cruel, tiresome and stressful. We have to make a conscious effort to take a breath, not only in yoga class, but in daily life as well. I used to encourage my yoga students to acknowledge their breathing every time they stopped at a red light while driving. Almost always, someone eagerly came back into our next class to report that they were holding their breath every time they found themselves waiting for the light to turn green.
The symbolism between waiting for the light to change and waiting for our life to change is exceptionally relevant.
You see, climbing up that beanstalk and looking at my life from afar made me realize that I’ve been holding my breath and waiting for life to change lately. I’ve been waiting for hope and healing for a loved one when I should have been empowering myself with knowledge and encouraging her in her faith. I’ve been waiting for the hurt of losing my Grandmother to subside when I should have been celebrating the unfettered and awesome truth that she gets to live on through me and I get to carry on and continue to live because of her. I’ve been waiting for the violence and destruction in other parts of our world to cease when I should have been teaching my children the importance of viewing our world as a global community rather than marks on a map, sanctioned off from one another, untouched by the happenings on the other side of the earth. I’ve been waiting for our appalling intolerance of one another in our own nation to shift when I should have been actively opening my heart and mind to my brothers and sisters who’s lives tell a different story from my own. We may never see eye to eye, but we must find a way to live side by side.
Just like all of you, I get worked up and bent out of shape sometimes. I have bad days, bad weeks, sucky months and quite frankly, this entire year won’t go down in history as one of my favorites during this lifetime. But you know what? This does not define me. I climbed up the beanstalk to get a broader perspective, to view a different angle of the life I’m living and I am back to breathing deep, full breaths. I’ve shifted my focus to the horizon. I’m harnessing the curative love of acrylic color on the brush. I’ve picked up the garden tools again, rolled out the yoga mat, plopped down on the meditation pillow and pulled inward. I’ve found that old familiar spot in my hunk’s eye where I swear, I can just slightly see the spark of his soul. And let me tell y’all, it heals me. I have kissed my children’s foreheads goodnight, breathing in the scent of their sweet spirits. I have spent time cooking in my country kitchen, eating and laughing with friends and their children, collecting feathers from my flock and piling up pinecone structures just for fun in the back yard.
My yoga, my art and my meditation, my family, friends and the wonderful, peaceful and healing abundance of God’s green earth, these are the people, the things, the activities
that keep me grounded and looking forward when I find myself gasping for breath during one of life’s particularly stifling moments. These are the focal points that are worth my attention and keep me rolling with the punches, no matter how fast or forceful they will come once I climb back down the beanstalk and back into the my real life present moment.
My friends do not hold your breath waiting for life to change. Close your eyes, take some deep breaths, envision yourself climbing up the beanstalk and give yourself a broader view of the life you are currently living. Reevaluate what is important, rebound on the promise that those things will carry you through the hardships, harness your own perspective and embrace the present moment.
Breathe in gratitude. Everything else will be released on the exhale.