yogi

Eyebrow Gratitude?!

I had major eyebrow gratitude this morning during my yoga practice. The room was packed full of people, mat to mat, all sweating through their Mysore practice. It’s beautiful and inspiring when this happens; the breathing in the room begins to sound like ocean waves. I close my eyes to imagine standing next to the ocean only to have my fantasy interrupted by… rain?! 

I saw drips slinking down the walls and hanging from the ceiling. It was condensation and…sweat. It drives me nuts when a few stray drips make their way into my eyes seriously challenging my practice of drishti. My focus turns to all the potential eye drops waiting in my hairline and on my forehead.  But then it happens. I notice my eyebrows working overtime and I was overwhelmed with… eyebrow gratitude?!

“You guys are saving me from so much stinging. Look at the way you guide those drops to the side so effortlessly. Brilliant you are. Just brilliant.”

I went on like this in my head for awhile - and I felt great while it was happening amidst gruelling poses. But in all honesty, it wasn’t my eyebrows that were making me feel great. It was a spontaneous practice of gratitude.

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Drishti

Is a Sanskrit word for a soft, yet focused gaze.

It could be interpreted as the direction the eyes are pointing, but it means so much more.

There’s outer and inner drishti. My eyes can be focused somewhere (outer drishti) while I’m thinking of something completely different (inner drishti).

Holding both inner and outer drishti simultaneously is hard. Focusing your eyes isn’t all that hard, but keeping your mind focused is on par with walking a tight rope…at least for me. 

I can assure you there’s times when my gaze appears focused but all I’m thinking about is the hair on my mat, the noisy breather next to me, and the whimperer behind me (the studio dog of course). My outer focus is nothing unless my inner focus is, well… focused.

My focus in each moment is my practice for the next moment. 

I don’t want to be practicing being annoyed (that damn noise next to me!!) - I’m already pretty good at that. I want my practice to be about love.

 True focus, true drishti, will break age old patterns of mind. Once you recognize them, you’re on the path to breaking them. To get past these patterns, I come back to drishti. 

I breathe deep. I focus my eyes and my mind. I remember to love. The more I focus on love, the more I remember love, the more I feel the love. And eventually, I won’t even have to remember. Ahhh…

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The doors to the world of the wild Self are few but precious. If you have a deep scar, that is a door, if you have an old, old story, that is a door. If you love the sky and the water so much you almost cannot bear it, that is a door. If you yearn for a deeper life, a full life, a sane life, that is a door.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

“All of the forms disappear into the lake of emptiness, and yet they are not lost. It’s at the edge of the lake that someone whose path is the path of the heart will say, “I am experiencing the presence of God,” for one more step into the lake and the experiencer and the experience have merged, and we have become God, and the concept of God is long gone.” 

-Ram Dass

The Peak of Life

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This past week there was a death in my family. My Grandfather, at the age of 98, passed in his sleep. I’m grateful for so many reasons: 98 was a beautiful, long life. 98 made it easier to understand that death was near. And 98 years gave us ample time together - which made his passing hard. No matter the age, it’s hard to loose someone you love.

While Gramps passing was much easier than my own Father’s, it did kick up memories of sadness from that time…and fear. Deep seated fear for my own inevitable passing.

The great sages refer to every aspect of life as practice; practice for the peak of life. Cue the reason I get on my yoga mat.

My mat is a mirror to my life. It’s a reflection of how I react to everything, including challenges. Through practice, I’ve learned my first reaction to stress is fear and through practice, I’ve given myself tools to deal with this fear - all in preparation for the greatest moment of life, the pinnacle of it, the greatest ecstacy:

“One who has become capable of witnessing life has become capable of witnessing death because death is not the end of life; it is the very culmination of it. It is the very pinnacle of it. Life comes to its peak in death. Because you are afraid, you miss. Otherwise, death is the greatest ecstasy, the greatest orgasm there is.” Osho