Certainty is a relic, an atavism, a husk we ought to have outgrown.Read More
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu— May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and to that freedom for all.Read More
The following piece was written by Maggie Gavin. Maggie has been teaching yoga for The Perri Institute for Mind and Body for five years. She is currently pursuing her MSW at Fordham University, to learn how to support mental health through yoga. Catch her class at Steps on Broadway: Fridays at 12 PM.
Thank you so much for the time you put in to read this post. Without you, this blog wouldn’t exist. The fact that you take the time from your day to read about my thoughts and musings means a lot to me. Writing for an audience isn’t something I do often, so I appreciate your curiosity and consideration. You are a much-valued member of this mindful and thoughtful community. I’m so grateful that we’ve come in contact.
If you must look back, do so forgivingly. If you must look forward, do so prayerfully. However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present…Gratefully. —Maya Angelou
If you must look back, do so forgivingly…
How many times have you read about letting go? How many times have you heard your yoga or meditation teacher say it? How many times does the song from Frozen play on repeat in your head whenever you hear that particular phrase? For many of us, letting go of the past with compassion is an act wrought with fear. It can feel as if we lose a part of ourselves in the process. However, when we look back with forgiveness, we can acknowledge our mistakes, be grateful for knowledge gained, and move forward.
Here’s an idea: with a pencil, write down something from your past that you feel is preventing you from taking the next step forward. Place it next to you as you engage in a meditation or other form of mindfulness. After letting your brain and body process what you’ve written, erase your words. Look at your clean slate.
If you must look forward, do so prayerfully…
What does it mean to have faith? Maybe it means trusting in a higher power to guide your path. Maybe it means stepping off the hamster wheel of anxiety about the future. Maybe it’s having confidence that the work of the present moment will grow and change and sustain you to the next place. Forgiving the past means letting go of regret. Praying for the future means letting go of worry. How? Develop a sense of trust.
Here’s an idea: identify one small risk to take today, something you wouldn’t normally do as part of your daily routine. What’s the worst that could happen? Maybe something wonderful.
However, the wisest thing you can do is be present in the present…gratefully.
How does expressing gratitude connect us to the present moment? Remember the last time you looked someone in the eyes and sincerely thanked them for their effort on your behalf. How about the last time someone did that for you. How did it feel to be on either side of the grateful moment? Gratitude, then, is essentially an appreciation of a shared moment as it’s happening. Practicing gratitude means the moments do not slip by without notice. A simple “thank you” has the power to uplift, to change someone’s day.
Here’s an idea: this week, write a thank you note to someone who made a difference in your life. Yes, a handwritten note that you send through the United States Postal Service. Notice how you feel writing it, and imagine how the other person will feel to receive it.
Tried any ideas in this post out for yourself? Leave a comment to let us know how it went!
Photo by Flickr user
“To say you don’t know is the beginning of knowing.” -Chinese proverb, from Thich Nhat Hanh’s
The Heart of Understanding
While I was in teacher training at the Perri Institute, this was one of the first lessons that TaraMarie taught us—in order to acquire knowledge, we must recognize that there is knowledge to be acquired. When we’re over-confident in our own expertise, we have a tendency to shut out the other sources of information that are coming our way. We become satisfied with our own understandings, and this satisfaction creates a mental block that prevents new ideas from entering our consciousness. We may believe that we’re being open-minded, but so long as we are unable to admit that we have much—if not all—to learn, then we are as resistant to new information as a cat is to a bubble bath.
There is a long list of things that I’ll readily admit I know absolutely nothing about: football, organic chemistry, electronic repair, making macarons… the list goes on. But there is also a list of things over which I’m hesitant to claim ignorance. My knowledge of Harry Potter trivia is, for example, rather thorough—as is my ability to quote the majority of the dialogue in
. While these examples are silly, there are more serious matters that I’ve read about quite regularly: debates about the environmental impact of organic versus conventional produce, about the effects of the digital age on the music industry, about the future of artists in the ever-expensive New York City, etc. After the sixth or seventh article, it becomes easier to form an opinion that, while perhaps sounding impressive at dinner parties, is not necessarily grounded in any sort of personal experience, or even primary source documentation. When I find myself latching on to the opinions of either one side or another, I must remind myself—I am not a scientist who has studied agriculture first-hand. Nor am I in any way an authority on the music industry, as I’m pretty sure singing in the shower does not constitute independent artist. My knowledge of the ebbs and flows of NYC’s economy is minimal, and the four years I’ve spent here as a performing artist are few compared to the decades experienced and documented by others. While I may know a little more about these topics than, let’s say, a newborn, I still have much to learn.
Admitting that you don’t know something is actually incredibly empowering. It may sound counterintuitive, but once you realize that you’re a blank canvas, you also realize the infinite number of colors, shapes, and materials available to you to start painting your picture. The words “I don’t know” don’t have to be paired with two hands thrown upward in defeat. Instead, we can find a teacher, grab a notebook, and follow our sentiment with “tell me more”.
So, in the spirit of greeting a new year with a clean slate and new intentions, I propose that we also clear out the blocks on what we think we know, and instead open ourselves up to what we don’t.
Have there been times when you've found yourself a little resistant to new information? Have there been moments when you’ve been able to acknowledge that your understandings have room to grow?