Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?
When it is over, I want to say: All my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world in my arms.
Instructions for living a life. Pay attention. Be amazed. Tell about it.
I am on a plane, returning to my home after a week in Alaska. It is a scary time as we can smell the smoke on take off and landing-- it is wildfire season in the Pacific Northwest. Simultaneously I am in awe of what a stunning and wild place Alaska is-- I am scheming a return to that glorious country. A few mornings ago, I stood on a lookout point in Skagway, the vista was beyond words and felt myself overwhelmed with the splendid beauty of this world we live in, the opportunity to breathe really fresh air, the tears rolled down my face with gratitude. I am grateful for so much: the amazing, inspiring communities I have had the privilege to visit; the quiet time I savor; the opportunities to teach and share the practices I love; the delicious food I get to eat; the celestial events I have witnessed; my safety, my home and family I return to.
The last two summers were difficult: fraught with miscarriage, chemotherapy and recovery from gestational trophoblastic disease. Many friends and family have asked if we are "trying" to get pregnant, as we are medically cleared to do so. Pregnancy can be easy for some, but it wan't for me. It has important to get to know myself again, emotionally, mentally and physically, and I am so grateful for these long days of self-discovery and strength. Between the fires in the NorthWest and the flooding/hurricanes in the South, my struggles feel like they pale in comparison.
And yet, contentment is a practice I have been working at cultivating. I spent so many days and years chasing the next thing, hustling for work and opportunity. I didn't often savor my successes, or rest in the calm after a storm. I was frenetic after chemotherapy ended last April, I felt like I had to make up for time that was perceived lost. Then I was introduced to a deeper perspective on contentment through training with Janet Stone, the first week spent in reflection and contemplation of this concept was incredibly frustrating, even anger igniting. The concept is both simple and elusive. Simple gratitude and a feeling of contentment, cannot be forced, pulled, pushed or demanded into existence. Like water, or gentle breeze, if when I try to grab it, it slips through my fingers.
My yoga practice has been shifting slowly and radically over the past decade. The practice of physical postures, asana, is much less about the shapes than it used to be, it is now about curious inquiry. As if I am asking, "how I am doing? How I am really doing?" over and over and over again with each pose. What feels good? What needs support? It is becoming a habit of checking in with myself. My yoga practice allows me to get more intimate with my breath, my emotions, the places of tightness and openness, strength and flexibility, tender areas and my own deeper wisdom. What is shifting slowly for you? What mindful practices support you through thick and thin?