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
The following piece was written by Brianna Goodman, copy and features editor for MindBodyBrew. Brianna teaches yoga with The Perri Institute for Mind and Body in New York City. She currently attends Fordham University, where she is pursuing a degree in English and creative writing, with a minor in communications. Catch her class Sunday and Wednesday mornings at Steps on Broadway.
“If you want people to listen to you, you have to listen to them.
If you hope people will change how they live, you have to know how they live.
If you want people to see you, you have to sit down with them eye-to-eye."
-Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road
In this passage from Gloria Steinem’s new memoir, Steinem describes bits of wisdom received in India from a group of Ghandians, members of a land reform movement inspired by Ghandi. Their wisdom: listen, learn, and see. While this advice was, for Steinem’s purposes, in regards to the organizing work that would become her career and legacy, this advice is also pertinent to everyday life. How often do we preach before we listen, or give advice before we fully understand the situation we’re advising on? How often do we demand attention, or expect an audience, before we do the work of earning that attention, and also paying attention in return?
When our lives move so quickly, and opinion pieces are written faster than the events earning those opinions can unfold, it seems required of us to formulate our own opinions and voice them immediately. But in this eagerness to describe the world in is and isn’t, in rights and wrongs that are easy to pinpoint, perhaps we are neglecting to honor the uniqueness of each situation and of each human being, with their singular circumstances and individualized history. We learn this in our yoga practices—no two bodies are the same, and often a choice that’s right for the person to our right is not what’s best for us. Yoga requires us to continuously evaluate our bodies and our minds—where is my body today? What does it need? Where is my headspace, and how does this knowledge inform my practice today?
So, how can we carry this practice of self-study off our mats and employ it with those around us, whether they be family, friends, coworkers, or strangers? Can we catch ourselves in those moments when we make snap judgements, and instead remind ourselves to ask questions and reevaluate the circumstances of a given scenario? In what ways can we make time to listen, not lecture; learn, not dismiss; and see, not simply demand to be seen?
Are there times you find yourself wanting to speak before you’ve heard? How do you incorporate the tools of svadhyaya—self-study—into your interactions with others?
The following piece was written by Brianna Goodman, copy and features editor for MindBodyBrew. Brianna teaches Yoga with The Perri Institute for Mind and Body in New York City. She currently attends Fordham University, where she is pursuing a degree in English and Creative Writing, with a minor in Communications.
“We do not succeed in changing things in accordance with our desires, but gradually our desires change. The situation that we hoped to change because it was intolerable becomes unimportant to us. We have failed to surmount the obstacle, as we were absolutely determined to do, but life has taken us round it, led us beyond it, and then if we turn round to gaze into the distance of the past, we can barely see it, so imperceptible has it become.” - Marcel Proust
At one point or another, we’ve all heard it: ‘The only person you can change is yourself.’ It is wise and—as far as I’ve discovered—true, but from time to time it’s easy to forget. Often we so adamantly seek some sort of end goal, whether it be a lifestyle, a relationship, a career, etc., that the people and obstacles that block our way feel like variables that must be conquered. If we could only convince her of this. If we could only make him do that. If only the landlord would lower our rent, or the subway would arrive quicker, or this specific agency would read my work, or the street noise would grow quiet when I’m trying to fall asleep—then I could have what I want. But of course life doesn’t work that way. And often when we view the uncontrollable not as antagonists, but as welcomed events of our grander life story, we discover that our narrowed focus was actually not the ideal—that it prevented us from experiencing all that was at our disposal. A one-track mind is unable to recognize that what it thinks it wants might be nothing like what it actually needs. It seeks a reality that does not exist, a reality that tears our focus away from the reality we should be focusing on: the one that we’re living right now.
Ambition can be fruitful—but not at the expense of an open mind. Goals inspire us and encourage us, and they inspire passionate work that is very positive. But goals do not have to be immovable. They do not have to be un-malleable. Our desires, as Proust writes, change. So, in both our yoga practice and in our daily lives, perhaps we can find a balance that allows us to work towards our destinations, but to be present to the possibility that the destinations might change. Life might take us left of where we think we should be going, but, as it turns out, left might be exactly where we now want to be.
Are there goals or desires you cling to that perhaps no longer serve you? Are there moments in which you fight to change circumstances—or people—that just can’t be changed? Are there changes you desire that can be achieved by a shift in your own mindset, or a willingness to be open to alternative possibilities?