Sunday, December 13, 2009

Yoga and learning to live with an open heart.

A couple days ago, my husband David and I went to the memorial service for the husband of someone we know through the meditation group David belongs to.   This man died unexpectedly, which was a huge shock to all of us.   The service was at the Friends Meeting House (Quakers), so instead of a traditional religious service, people stood up and shared their stories about him and about how he had touched their lives.  

It was a lovely meeting, given the circumstances, and very touching.   Story after story about him told how caring and supportive he was with friends, co-workers, and family.   He was a good and kind friend.   He didn't say bad things about people behind their backs.  He wasn't judgmental, but accepting of people's faults.   He gave meaningful, loving advice when asked, and when it wasn't asked for, he still gave his loving support.   Many people commented that he could really "see" them;  that he understood them.   He lived fully; he was genial and open-hearted.

A few of us who were talking together afterward wished we could develop more fully this open-hearted attitude.   How do we learn to live with an "open-heart" and to be truly present when other people need our help and support?

All spiritual traditions show us how to lead better lives; how to become better people.   What is the practice of yoga if not to give us tools to learn how to become better people?     The practice of yoga teaches us to observe ourselves and to more fully understand ourselves.  

What do we see when we look at ourselves?   What do we want to change?  

The style of yoga I teach, Iyengar yoga, starts with the physical knowledge of ourselves since this is the easiest part of ourselves to observe.    As we work in the yoga poses, we learn to observe how our bodies react in the poses, and we learn to adjust the poses so that they work better for us and help us become physically healthier.   This takes practice!  As we learn to work more skillfully and mindfully in the physical poses, we start to know our physical bodies better.     But this is also training for us to learn to observe and understand other aspects of ourselves.    We learn to observe how we react in different situations in our lives.   When we can pause and observe and reflect on what's going on in our lives and how we're reacting to these aspects, then we can start to take steps to change ourselves for the better.   And again THIS takes practice!

The death of this wonderful man, this loving husband and father and brother and friend and coworker, is the kind of event that reminds us to pay attention to the things that really matter in our lives.    It reminds us to cherish the people in our lives, since they may be taken from us too soon, and it reminds us to practice living our lives fully, so we can accomplish what we want to accomplish before we all pass away.

This man's wife asked that we sing the following song, which has been going through my head ever since the memorial service.    It's from a traditional Sufi song from the Dances of Universal Peace.

All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you.
All I ask of you is forever to remember me as loving you.
      Ishq allah ma'bud allah*
      Ishq allah ma'bud allah
      Ishq allah ma'bud allah
      Ishq allah ma'bud allah

*“The Spirit is at once The Lover, The Beloved and Love Itself.
or "God is Love, Lover and Beloved."

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.