Daily Tao ☯ 6.14.17

Another rough day. Another terror attack. In our backyards, this time. Or at least, my old backyard. Maybe that's why it hit me so hard. 

I was feeling (understandably) bleak this morning. Though I stayed away from most of social media, I did post about the shooting early on FB, and a pastor friend of mine, Rev. Katie Ladd, with whom I went to college (yes, we've been friends a very long time) commented back. In turn, I asked her for spiritual guidance, which she graciously gave. I asked if I could share it because it is so beautiful, and gave me a more than a small measure of peace. I hope it helps you this evening, too.

Sometimes feeling bleak, as difficult as it is, is the only thing to do in the face of overwhelming sorrow and heartbrokenness. The spiritual challenge is not to linger there too long. Mourn today - for those wounded, for those compelled to see violence as an answer for anything, for our country, for the already hard hearted and hateful sentiments springing up online. Mourn. Our country needs to pause and mourn for so much. 

Here's the spiritually challenging part. And (or "then" - it's up to each of us is we can do this at the same time as mourning or if we need to wait) reach deep inside and reach out to community that serves as a reminder of the goodness in life. There is also that at work in our lives and in our world. I mean, look at us. We haven't seen each other in a long time. Our politics are pretty different. I still love you and value our connection. I give thanks to God for you. Love and community can exist in this world - in the midst of difference and distance, in the midst of mourning and brokenness, in the midst of it all. 

And then work. Work for a better world. 

The best resistance to the powers of violence, death, and despair is laughter. Evil is prepared to fight righteousness. It has no idea what to do with joy. So laugh along the way. 

You already know all of this. I hope these little reminders don't come across as trite. Mostly I want to say that I understand why you would feel bleak. It is normal. And I care.

"Evil is prepared to fight righteousness. It has no idea what to do with joy."

These are words to live by. 

Sweet dreams.  

On Om Shanti Shanti Shanti


Do you yoga? I began back in the fall, a twice weekly practice that has ebbed and flowed over the past several months. When I started I could barely do a downward dog, pigeon wasn't at all challenging but I couldn't stand in mountain pose with my eyes closed, and I wondered if I would ever be able to do tree, as balancing on one leg was honestly a joke.

Six months later, my guru finished our session Saturday morning with a delighted smile. "You just did an intermediate to advanced level class." she said. "You don't even realize how far you've come."

I pondered that statement as I drove home. Without a doubt, I am physically stronger. I've added a solid fifteen to twenty yards to my golf drive, for example, so I know there are more muscles in the somewhere.  I dream about poses I haven't even tried yet, much yet mastered. Last week I took an online class that was exceptionally challenging and only pondered quitting twice, because the poses were well beyond my current abilities (balancing poses still give me fits. I blame the top-heaviness.) Each time, I persevered, adapting poses until we returned to a more manageable situation. When I finished savasana, I was pleased with my effort.

Pleased, but not satisfied. Because yoga is more than mastering poses for me. It is about the transcendence that I feel, the peace, the sheer connectedness with my being. It's almost a state of hypnosis. It is somthing I strive for in my meditation as well, which in and of itself is wrong, striving guarantees you won't find what you seek. You must be. Yoga is the same way. That transcendence doesn't happen every time, but it is glorious when it does.

My guru reminds me that we approach our practice as we approach our life. And as I grit my teeth and try to force my body into positions that it most likely was not meant to go into, I think about that adage. I unclench my teeth, soften my gaze, smile. "It's just yoga, baby," my guru coos at me. And we giggle when I lose my balance, and try, and try, and try again.

I can say unreservedly that yoga has changed my life. My perspective. Like writing, days when I don't do yoga aren't good days. Days when I write and yoga are stellar. And when I find myself leaning over my laptop, gritting my teeth, I soften my gaze, and smile, and remind myself that determination is a good thing, but relaxing and letting it flow is always more preferable.

Today, as I march into another year, I look back on the previous birthday and ask myself - are you happier now than you were then? Are you doing what you love? Are you finding ways to make those you love happy? The answers are invariably yes. But this year, I add a new question.

Are you at peace?

And the answer is found in my mantra. Om shanti, shanti, shanti.

Everything peace, peace, peace.