We often share a poem, or words that inspire us before we start our classes. Below are some pieces shared in classes by any number of teachers. Writings that inspire us, that get us back on to our mats on a daily basis, that allow us to practice our yoga not just on our mats, but in our connections with family, friends and strangers.
From Gil Hedley –
Your eyes are windows into your whole body. Sometimes when I find myself using my eyes to focus on something, or trying to "get" something with my eyes, it helps to remember the "receptive moment" that is much a part of "seeing" as actively "looking." The result is a softer gaze and release of tension, and the ease of just letting in some light.
From a Distance – Mio Morales
Movement is about change. In order to change you have to let go of one movement to make room for the next. This is the key to moving easily. It allows change to evolve smoothly. When you're Noticing you can watch the way a movement evolves as if from a "distance". That "distance" allows us to observe without getting in the way. We get in our own way when have an agenda about how we think the movement is supposed to feel. If we are constantly checking to see if the movement is feeling how we think it should feel, we interfere with the movement.
As we move it is natural to experience changes in the way our body feels. Some of those sensations are more pleasant than others. Some sensations are familiar; some are not. The key is not to take those sensations too seriously. As the movement passes through you, let the sensations pass through you as well, without your evaluating them. Instead, ask yourself: "Am I Noticing right now?" That way you stop evaluating how you are doing in terms of your old idea of how you think it should feel; you keep track of how you're doing from a "distance" by knowing whether or not you are Noticing.
Noticing allows you to evaluate the movement objectively by focusing on the process instead of the results. This frees you from your old habits and gets you out of your own way allowing your whole self to function as it was designed to.
- Mio Morales
From Adyashanti –
If you prefer smoke over fire
then get up now and leave.
For I do not intend to perfume
your mind's clothing
with more sooty knowledge.
No, I have something else in mind.
Today I hold a flame in my left hand
and a sword in my right.
There will be no damage control today.
For God is in a mood
to plunder your riches and
fling you nakedly
into such breathtaking poverty
that all that will be left of you
will be a tendency to shine.
So don't just sit around this flame
choking on your mind.
For this is no campfire song
to mindlessly mantra yourself to sleep with.
Jump now into the space
and exit this dream
before I burn the damn place down.
From Pema Chodron –
THE PRESENT MOMENT IS OUR ALLY
We might ask, Given my present situation, how long should I stay with uncomfortable feelings? This is a good question, yet there is no right answer. We simply get accustomed to coming back to the present just as it is for a second, for a minute, for an hour—whatever is currently natural—without its becoming an endurance trial. Just pausing for two to three breaths is a perfect way to stay present. This is a good use of our life. Indeed, it is an excellent, joyful use of our life. Instead of getting better and better at avoiding, we can learn to accept the present moment as if we had invited it, and work with it instead of against it, making it our ally rather than our enemy.
From Louise Edrich –
Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.
~ Louise Erdrich, The Painted Drum: A Novel
From Lao Tzu –
Always we hope
someone else has the answer.
Some other place will be better,
some other time it will all turn out.
This is it,
No one else has the answer.
No other place will be better,
and it has already turned out.
At the center of your being
you have the answer;
you know who you are
and you know what you want.
There is no need
to run outside
for better seeing.
Nor to peer from a window.
Rather abide from the center of your being;
for the more you leave it, the less you learn.
Search your heart
the way to do
is to be.
- Lao Tzu
From Gil Hedley –
Until you resolve the dissatisfaction in yourself, no person, place, thing, or experience, here or there, will ever be seen for what they are. They will ultimately be objects of your temporary attachment and certain eventual disappointment, rather than your appreciation. For the whole world to become heavenly treasure in your eyes, you must become heavenly treasure to yourself. Where to start? Accept and love where, and who, you are.
From David Whyte –
When your eyes are tired the world is tired also.
When your vision has gone no part of the world can find you.
Time to go into the dark where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.
There you can be sure you are not beyond love.
The dark will be your womb tonight.
The night will give you a horizon further than you can see.
You must learn one thing: the world was made to be free in.
Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong.
Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet confinement of your aloneness
to learn anything or anyone that does not bring you alive is too small for you.
- David Whyte,
“House of Belonging”
From Mark Nepo. –
The Way Under the Way
For all that has been written,
for all that has been read, we
are led to this instant where one
of us will speak and one of us will
listen, as if no one has ever placed
an oar into that water.
It doesn’t matter how we come
to this. We may jump to it or be
worn to it. Because of great pain.
Or a sudden raw feeling that this
is all very real. It may happen in a
parking lot when we break the eggs
in the rain. Or watching each other
in our grief.
But here we will come. With very
little left in the way.
When we meet like this, I may not
have the words, so let me say it now:
Nothing compares to the sensation
of being alive in the company of
another. It is God breathing on
the embers of our soul.
Stripped of causes and plans
and things to strive for,
I have discovered everything
I could need or ask for
is right here--
in flawed abundance.
We cannot eliminate hunger,
but we can feed each other.
We cannot eliminate loneliness,
but we can hold each other.
We cannot eliminate pain,
but we can live a life
we are small living things
awakened in the stream,
not gods who carve out rivers.
Like human fish,
we are asked to experience
meaning in the life that moves
through the gill of our heart.
There is nothing to do
and nowhere to go.
we can do everything
and go anywhere.
– Mark Nepo
From Danna Faulds –
One glowing flame can
light a hundred candles,
and then a hundred times
a hundred more. I pray to
be such a flame, my illusions
giving fuel to what is real.
Light recognizes light,
and leaps to meet it.
May this sweet contagion
increase until light prevails,
and we all live in the
glow of truth’s illumination.
– Danna Faulds