Forgive me if I’ve told you this story before; it’s one of my favorites and bears repeating:
About a decade ago, I visited my Aunt and Uncle, who were working in Singapore. It was a long flight, first to Japan and from there into Changi Airport. My body was a mess of minor aches and twitches after 26 hours in the air.
My Aunt decided to apply the yoga cure-all and took me to her favorite class, which was held on the cool marble floors of a meeting hall inside a Hindu temple. Four long woven mats were unfurled, striping the space. We lined up on the mats, one behind the other, waiting for the yogi to take his place at the head of the room.
At the time I had a regular yoga practice. I was (almost) over the self-consciousness of being a large-boned woman amongst the lithe and graceful American yogites in their well-matched spandex and cute hoodie cover-ups.
So imagine my surprise when a man built more like a sumo wrestler than a greyhound took up the teacher’s mat—in a well-worn tank top and cut-off sweatpants, not a hint of Lycra or lean muscle mass to be seen.
After a class very unlike any I had ever attended in the States, I approached the front. I was a bit in awe of this large man who could support his considerable weight on one arm. When it was my turn to speak with him, I blurted the first question that came to mind:
Why do you do yoga?
He didn’t pause to consider his answer, just smiled gently and explained that yoga is a pathway to inner balance. And once you find that balance, the goings-on of the external world no longer shake you. You can live on a park bench, he told me, in happiness and joy.
Why am I pondering this story today?
Because even when you’ve spent your time honing your inner-self so that you can stand in your power, life happens.
(Don’t worry, Mom, this time this is a friend’s story, not my own.)
But eventually it will be all of our stories.
Because, inevitably, life happens.
I like to think of the goings-on of every day life as what happens with the above ground parts of a tree. There may be storms and lightening strikes, high winds and early frost. This is simply life.
Branches will crack and break. Termites will chew.
Life might hurt. It might hurt badly at times.
This is life above ground and if your roots are shallow, the goings on up there can deeply compromise your whole being.
But if you have done the inner work of rooting and grounding, of digging deep, there is a place for your energy to go, to regroup and regrow when the wind whips and the storm rages.
And this is why we practice finding inner peace, this is why we hone our spirits to hold and reflect love: not so we can escape from the world, but so we can survive in it.
May your roots grow deep and strong.
P.S. When life gets rocky, pour some chamomile tea, rose petal elixir, and a dose of Five Flower Formula on those deepening roots. Think of it as fertilizer for the soul.