Last week I taught class themes encouraging students to release what they might recognize as inessential - not necessary - to continue carrying along in body and mind. Sometimes when deep into the yoga practice, we come face-to-face with something we do not need which we have been holding on to. It can take the form of a concern, a thought pattern, or a habitual judgment. It can feel like a pang in the heart, a pain in the hip, or a pulsing headache. By freeing ourselves of the space it occupies, we create room to cultivate something we need to grow in its place. There is an exchange.
Mid-week, the word "inessential" took on sharp potency when I read Oliver Sacks' Op-Ed for the New York Times, My Own Life: Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer. Mr. Sacks, thinker/writer/neurologist, is dying. An excerpt:
"Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.
On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.
This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).
I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential."
I encourage you to read the full piece. It is honest, heartfelt, simple, and inspiring to those of us who still have time to live on this earth. Mr. Sacks has given us a gift. I am grateful that in the process of his detaching, he found a moment to share this lesson with us as one of his inessential tasks...always teaching by example.
While it might be a futile exercise until the moment we learn of our impending death (perhaps we truly cannot answer until that precise moment), I would like to pose two questions to all of you:
What could you let go of that is inessential to your living? What is essential to your living on which you could place a greater focus now?
- TaraMarie Perri