My youngest will leave for college in a month and a half. Part of why I’ve taken up an intentional and active practice in creating art and teaching yoga is because I’m about to release one of our last human creations out into the world. My “parenting” (how I really hate that word — but nothing seems to work as well in this context) will now happen on text and in email and during holding-back-tears conversations on the phone on Sunday nights.
This might be why in a moment of peaceful clarity I had an idea about writing a children’s book about a couple who raise pumpkins and raise children. Where the text flowed out into my sketchbook in an evening, I’m now taking my time with the drawings, which I then plan to take my time translating into colorful oil paintings. I want this creative process to be like raising my children. Like raising children (or raising pumpkins) good things come to those who take the time, who are truly present, and who let love and positive energy flow through them to help growth. Because what is the goal of being a parent but the process of learning to love profoundly and deeply? What is the goal of being an artist? A yogi? Through parenting, creating art, practicing asana we learn that even when things do go awry and they will, they will… we can always return to the grace of the practice of time, presence, love and positive energy.
Similarly, teaching yoga takes time too. I’ve just signed on to teach Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6:15 am at a studio near my home. (See the Classes page for the exact details.) I’ve only been there two weeks, but already I find myself blessed with the seed of love taking hold of me — thinking about how this asana might be interesting for one or fun for another or good for them all. We don’t get to choose our parents or our children, and in many ways our yoga teachers are luck of the draw too. I pray I can continue to take the time I need to be truly present to the students who are that dedicated to their practice to show up early in the morning, and to let the love and positive energy flow through me to them. Especially in the winter, when rising at 5 am will be a bit more difficult!
From Judith Lasater’s Living Your Yoga: Finding the Spiritual in Everyday Life
Sometimes I notice my yoga students practicing their less than favorite poses with a ho-hum attitude. At these moments, I remind them that although yoga is powerful, it cannot transform us unless we love it. When we love, we are receptive to the “other.” When we love, we are vulnerable. Although being vulnerable can be frightening, it is also the doorway to the ultimate freedom written about in book four, verse twenty-two of the Bhagavad Gita… ‘Content with what is chance-obtained, transcending the opposites, without envy, the same in success and failure, though performing actions — he is not bound.’
Here, Krishna explains what life is like when you are not bound by the attraction of opposites, and that when this state is experiences, there is no reaction to the vicissitudes of life. When you react, you are not in a state of love. When you can love without expectation, you are in a state of pure love. Mostly what is declared to be love is not. Rather, it is need, or fear, or the desire for power over another person. Love in its purest sense is not based upon what you get from the relationship, but on what the relationship allows you to give. The depth of your love is not reflected in what the other makes you feel, but in your willingness to give of yourself. Love’s job is to lead you to intimacy with what is enduring in yourself and in others. Whether this connection lasts for seconds or decades, love is not wasted. Through it, you have been transformed.