Breathing in I calm my body. Breathing out I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh
How we approach life matters. Is your cup half full, or half empty? Two days ago I decided to set up our Christmas Tree, even though Bob was out-of-town visiting his mom who is going to turn 90 in a week! I went to the store, picked it out, a gentleman put it on my roof; I came home, rolled it off my roof, carried it around to the back of the house, brought it inside and put it in its stand and left it to dry for a few hours. I thought I might wait until the next day to trim it, until our Realtor called and asked if they could show the house the following day. Yikes! I had to trim the tree that night so it’d look picture perfect for the viewing! So, I spent a good hour wrestling with the tree, trying to get it vertical in its stand, going back and forth from adjusting it, to standing up and deciding whether it was leaning too much one way or another. Pine needles in my hair, cursing under my breath, fighting with the poor tree, begging it’s trunk to be perfectly straight. And then I realized the tree was perfect just the way it was! I was reminded these words by Ram Dass:
That’s when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree. The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.
Here I was, trying to make this tree my version of perfect. Okay, so I let that go. Time fot the lights! Arghhh. I started stringing the lights, still cursing under my breath. Saying to myself, this is so much work, What’s a good Jewish girl like me doing trimming this tree all by myself making Christmas for my family? Wah, wah, wah…pehaps a little cheese to go with my wining thoughts? Ha-ha. And somewhere along the way, somehow, all of a sudden, my whole attitude shifted. Just like that. In a flash I was happy. In a moment my attitude switched to gratitude. And I started enjoying myself. Feeling so happy that I was setting up our tree. Realizing that if we do sell our home this year, this would be the last time we’d celebrate the holidays here. Feeling so grateful that we could afford to buy a tree and have a lovely warm home to set it up and enjoy its pine fragrance and lights. And then, I became nostalgic as I hung the ornaments, some home-made 35 years ago, some made by my daughter 23 years ago, some more recent. And I was just so happy.
My take-away is we have a choice about how we approach life, how we deal with life’s roadblock’s and challenges. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment, to be overwhelmed by our thoughts and to fall out of gratitude. Yoga teaches us to cultivate the witness self and to observe our thoughts. Sometimes we become our thoughts and miss the present experience! A practice to cultivate gratitude is to wake up each morning and name five things/people you are grateful for and go to bed at night, again naming five things you are grateful for. Try it this month, starting today, right thought the end of the year and observe how you approach whatever comes your way!
We are grateful to provide a safe place for you to experience yoga. Thank you for being a part of our community! Wishing you a peaceful Holiday Season.
©Jo Kirsch, December 2018