Punctuate Life

Pause Breathe Relax


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Balancing This Tight Rope Act We Call Life…

Balance is something I absolutely love to talk about. Maybe because it reminds me of the tree pose or Vrikshasana in Yoga. When I started doing yoga I couldn’t do the tree pose. I kept toppling over. I was out of balance. Had some dull aches and pains which I thought were ‘normal’ after childbirth and ‘normal’ as you grow ‘older’. But I remembered the time I was young and fresh out of school with a supple and flexible body that could contort into unimaginable yoga poses. I remember having the general feeling of well being that ebbed and flowed throughout the day. My emotions were equable and under ‘my’ control. I sorely missed yoga and the amazing sense of peace and health that went with it. So during the long dreary winters in Boston I started doing yoga in my living room with Wai Lana and my little yogis. My body resisted when coaxed into poses I was pretty sure I could do. I quickly gave up but by then my kids developed a liking for the kid-friendly yoga videos. They wanted to be lions and cobras and do the cat and dog stretch. So I did it with them but with little enthusiasm. Deep down inside I’m thinking – I can never be as supple as them.

Then the PBS channel did a special on Peggy Cappy of Kripalu Yoga in the beautiful Berkshire mountains of Massachusetts. All her students are seniors. Some of them joined yoga class after years of crippling pain that interfered with their normal life. Her oldest student was 90 (I think). And here I was not even 30 and complaining about not being ‘bendy’ enough! So I threw myself into yoga with a renewed spirit but lacked the discipline I had before kids, marriage and responsibilities. I yearned for some structure and discipline and to study under a good yoga teacher like Peggy. Well, that wish of mine was granted soon. I found a yoga teacher after I moved to Florida  (seems like Fl is the land where dreams come true…at least for me!)  She had a morning class at the recreation center right across the street from my home (how convenient!) I ended up being her first and only student. Lucky me got to have several one-on-one sessions with her.

She is probably my grandmother’s age, silver-haired, always smiling with a soothing voice that can get you into Shavasana (deep relaxation) in a trice. After doing the sun breath she would say – bring your hands together in prayer position over the heart chakra – MIND, BODY and SPIRIT are one. She also did something called the breath of joy which helps release stress and lightens you up. I simply loved her and Yoga was the highlight of my week for almost a year. My aches and pains vanished. The back pain that used to show up at the end of a long day on my feet – GONE and has never returned. My malady of being cold always (yes, even in Florida!) magically disappeared even without me realizing it. I also had a lot more tolerance and did not lose my cool easily. People said I exuded peace. My body and mind were restored to a balanced state. But what amazes me the most is that I did not know I was out of balance. That, by the way is everyone’s story. People ignore signs their bodies send their way. You think pain is normal, diabetes is normal, heart disease is heriditary, arthritis is incurable. I have to live with it you say. No you don’t! Most diseases are caused by wrong thinking, wrong diet, lack of exercise etc. Why is stress everyone’s favorite word today? I admit that we have an undue amount of stress to deal with, living in the world as it is today…but we also have the tools to bust stress and live a balanced and peaceful life.

Everything in life is a choice. You can choose to think positively or spiral down the black hole of negativity. You can choose to live a healthy stress-free life or fill your life with meaningless things that stress you out and slowly but surely suck the life out of you. You have the power to transform your body into a powerhouse of strength which in turn transforms your work, your relationships and your impact on the world at large. Don’t put it off. Start today. Honor your body, strike a balance and stay centered always.

What will you do to bring balance into your life? Please share below.

 


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Attitude of Gratitude

My dear mother taught me this very early in life. Whenever I started whining she used to point out from our bedroom window to the slums behind our apartment and say – Look how they live and be happy you have so much. Well, I didn’t think we had much and I never really got this for another decade or so. If you look up which part of the world the most number of unhappy people live in, you will be surprised to see that the top ten are developed countries of the world and not the poorest countries. It’s called the affliction of having too much to the point of not appreciating it. After I moved to the U.S. I ended up being a statistic. I was unhappy and considered myself a ‘deprived’ soul. Fortunately, some part of me saw a gaping hole in this theory. I had everything!

So why was I unhappy? Why was I needy? What was I missing? I was missing gratitude. Big time! All I did was whine about what I didn’t have (my mom tried to drill sense into me but it fell on deaf ears). When I hit 30 I think something changed and I shifted my focus and energy on being thankful for what I had. My life changed and wonderful things started happening to me.But it took me a long time to get to ‘this’ place – where I am right now. Where I’m thankful even for the times when I was battered, thrown off the cliff and hanging for my dear life. I am what I am because those not-so-nice things happened to me. I needed adversity to grow in wisdom and tragedy to teach me the gift of joy in fleeting moments.

Let me explain…I whined about being away from friends and family and being lonely all the time. Now, I realize that the time I spent alone was the time I found myself and got comfortable with ‘me’. These days I seek quiet moments away from the crowds, just to connect with my inner guidance and wisdom. Ten years ago I would have told you this is all gobbledygook and that I hate being alone!

The years I spent being unemployed and feeling worthless, I thought I would be happy with a job. But those years fine-tuned my senses to bring me back to writing and helping others. When I did get a job, I knew that just any job would never be enough anymore.

When I volunteer at the school, I sometimes wish I was paid for my time and effort (I’m not very proud of feeling that way) but the progress the kids make and the sheer joy of working with unpretentious souls whose sole purpose in life is to have fun, makes me want to do more. Sometimes I think I’m luckier than the teachers even though they get paid for what they do!

In hindsight, it’s been a rocky road but now I try to wake up every morning and give thanks for another beautiful day. It’s easy enough to do when things are going swimmingly. Try it when your life is topsy-turvy – that’s a real challenge. Today seems to be one of those days…so here goes. I’m thankful for being alive, for being in a loving relationship, for being a mom. I’m thankful for every person in my life who believed in me when I didn’t. I’m thankful for the gift of creativity, sensitivity and compassion. I’m thankful to you for reading this and thankful for my blog. I’m thankful that I finally realized that ‘I’ can make a difference however small and insignificant ‘I’ may be.

The universe likes gratitude and responds to gratitude. It conspires to bring you more of the same experiences that you are grateful for. It works in ways that your mind could never conceive and sometimes delivers you things beyond your wildest dreams. Gratitude shifts you into the state of receiving (speed delivery, first class, priority!) It happened to me. If you asked me in 2011 if I would ever write a blog, my answer would have been – NEVER!

And I stand corrected, humbled and eternally grateful.

Do share the three things in your life that you are most grateful for, below…Thanks!