“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside, awakens.” ~Carl Jung
Today gave me a wake up call. Being a practitioner and teacher of yoga, you would think I would completely know what it feels like to be present. But, also being cured of severe epilepsy via brain surgery, this experience made my mind tumble in its rapid search for explanation. All that came to mind was fear. I was more “present” than I had been in a long time.
As I got ready for my yoga class, a blend of colors appearing in the helix form of DNA emerged in the peripheral vision of the left eye. I closed my eyes and it was still there in the dark. I felt fine…but, started to think of what ifs and then it slightly faded. Listening to music in an effort to forget about it as I drove to my yoga class….it came back. The colors formed the same angle only visible in the peripheral side…yet nothing else physical could be seen beyond it. It was brighter, more pronounced and I could only think..”oh my ‘God…is this a stroke in the making? Is this the beginning of the end? I need more time.”
I actually did what I could remember to ask a stroke victim to do to myself. I raised both arms. I said a sentence. And, my fear lessened, but a sense of vulnerability remained. It tapered off and disappeared after around fifteen minutes. It did not return; however, it instilled a reminder of the brevity of life and what really matters.
I have dreamed of traveling to far away beautiful places. I have dreamed of writing a best seller. I have dreamed of being so good at whatever I do…the gap between me and the “competition” is too far to measure. Of course, that last one is the ego putting in its two cents. Ultimately, I have dreamed of making a positive difference that will be remembered for a long time…even if it is just a quote of inspiration.
Then, I saw the words by Carl Jung in my diary that I carry with me and understood. I have a life full of love. None of the dreams would be worth pursuing if the people I love and who love me existed. The spark of love ignites the fire of my dreams.
I started my full class of folks ready to start the year fresh with vigor and good intention. I felt honored to lead them in a practice to get the energy of life moving. I focused on the mere gift of breathing…moving…feeling our united energy…just being. I wanted to get them feel more alive and awake. Or, maybe I was the one who wanted that. Perhaps I was teaching myself in front of others.
I write about the benefits of yoga and the power it can ignite. But, the truth is that any physical activity that moves you is what you should do. Do what makes you happy. The body and mind depend on each other. You might love running, cycling, swimming or pilates. Do what you love and the benefits will surface.
Studies have shown that exercise helps those who suffer from depression and a plethora of other neurological issues. The chain reaction of neurotransmitters and hormones released during physical activity makes your brain function better. Dependence on medication can be reduced or even eliminated with the active utilization of exercise. But, you’ve got to be an active player for your “teammates” to get the spark lit.
When you exercise, I think your body shows it loves you back by the subtle changes that emerge. The muscles get stronger. You can breathe better. The heart gets stronger and nourishes the brain and body with oxygen loaded cells. You feel better physically and mentally. It might be fitness that you initially seek. But, the impact on the mind is just as great. The body and mind are interconnected and function best when both are given attention.
Do we think exercising will make us live longer? If we eat “right,”do we live longer? Do we think we can extend our time beyond the average statistical life span? Truth is, when it is time…it is time. It all does make a difference; however, the purpose of why we do it needs to be re-evaluated.
Taking the time to work the body shows you respect yourself. Practicing to become better at something shows you have faith in yourself. Nourishing your body with good food shows you care about yourself. Showing love to yourself via personal time with an activity that makes you happy makes it possible for you to show love to others. It is only when you give yourself love and respect that makes it possible to harness and manifest your visions of your life.
While teaching my class with the gentle reminder that it could be my last, I understood more about the cliches of life and death. In the end, it really is about love…helping others…following the heart of who you are within. When the moment comes to leave your physical space, your perception narrows down to who you are now. The final exam of life is probably one question: Have you mastered love?
Love will always be the key ingredient in the evolving recipe of life. Maybe that is the enlightenment that so many seek to find. The Beatles were right…”all you need is love.”
Perhaps when the structured concept of time is lifted, life won’t feel so fragile. I believe Gandhi’s words give a peek into the unseen: “Where there is love, there is life.”
Let those words percolate in your mind, body and heart. Use the mind and body to feel this truth. With the energy of love wide awake in the heart, we might realize we have something greater than the time we watch move on the clock.