Isn’t it funny how life often sends us just the messages we need, exactly when we need them. This month life sent me one of the most important and life changing messages yet.
Each month I try to set myself a sadhana project to help me to stay focused on my growth as a human and as a yoga teacher. A sadhana project is a project for spiritual growth, a kind of intention, often set at the start of a new moon cycle, to be incorporated into all areas of life for the duration of the cycle. This month I chose perspective. I chose perspective because I was in a perspective rut. I seemed to be continually ending up in the same mind-set with the same problems not matter what was going on around me.
In my last post I discussed escapism and how sometimes we can get stuck in a habitual state of escapism, believing that change or escape is our path to contentment. We can find ourselves thinking about or actually following through with quitting our jobs, ending our relationships, moving house, town or country, drinking too much, partying too much, buying things that we don’t need, the list goes on. When actually perhaps the only thing we really need to change is our perspective on the situation. Maybe we already have everything we need in order to be content right here, right now. Maybe all we need to do is just stop for a minute, step back a little bit and look at our lives with fresh eyes because I can guarantee you no matter how bad things feel we can all be so very grateful for a great many things. All of us have the capacity to wake up grateful and hopeful every day but we often choose instead to wake up anxious, annoyed, worried, and resentful. What if instead of resenting getting up at 6am we could embrace the beauty and stillness of the morning? What if instead of resenting going to work and worrying about how much we have to do we could instead choose to let go of expectation and seek out the positives? We all have these choices available to us so why aren’t we all perfectly content? Because it’s very hard to change our perspective without being forced or shocked into it and that is exactly what has happened this month for me.
I was having relative success at the start of the month with my sadhana but soon began to slip back into those feelings of apathy, anxiety and longing for a different reality. Suddenly my life was flipped upside down by the news that my dad, my best friend, one of my biggest supporters and sources of love and wisdom was dying and there was nothing I could do about it but wait and hope and I couldn’t even be by his side. All of a sudden, in that very moment, absolutely nothing mattered. Nothing at all. I wasn’t questioning what I was doing with my life, I wasn’t dissatisfied or anxious about anything. All that mattered was being alive and him staying alive. As he started to get better and I heard his voice for the first time I suddenly felt fearless and absolutely high on life. Not because this ordeal was over (because it still isn’t!) but because I had been given a second chance and a very stark reminder of the fragility of life.
When we first found out he was in hospital I was advised to do something I have never been particularly good at… ask for help but with thousands to be raised to get him home I had no choice and I could never have guessed what would happen next. We were absolutely inundated with messages of support, offers of help and donations. Suddenly we were given a glimmer of hope, which strengthened our resolve to get him home however we could.
Although my dad is still not home 3 weeks later and we are still battling with establishment, process and money, we are battling with strength, hope and positivity made available to us through hundreds of friends, family members and strangers choosing to act from a place of kindness and compassion. This has re-instilled in us all a much-needed faith in community and the kindness of humanity. The heart’s magnetic field is 500 times that of the brain and I am certain the collective power of those hearts goes a long way to explaining Dad’s miraculous, against the odds recovery.
In a world where we are fed daily messages of threat, fear and violence, it can be so easy to lose faith in humanity, so easy to lose faith in the kindness of the human spirit. Any lack of contentment or dissatisfaction suddenly pales into insignificance against an overwhelming backdrop of connection, love, kindness and community.
This renewed faith in the world is life changing and has been a massive wake up call. I feel genuinely so, so, so lucky to be alive, to have an amazing community of friends and family and to wake up each day to the possibility and freedom of a new day. Even the way I look at people has changed, experiencing such displays of kindness and generosity has made me feel connected. I feel I am able to interact without barriers, which makes every single interaction enjoyable.
The universe has sent me the message that perspective is everything; there is no point in worrying about anything as you never know what is around the corner and nothing is as important as love, connection and kindness. Kindness has the capacity to change the world.
‘Do your little bit of good where you are; it's those little bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.’ - Desmond Tutu