This weekend my son, Tristan, graduated from the Santa Rosa Junior College. He will be transferring to UC Davis and majoring in Economics in the fall. This time is oh so bittersweet. While so proud and happy for my son, I wasn't prepared for the sadness that I would feel. These milestones in a fleeting life are a big deal. From the current experience, opportunity arises spontaneously to reflect on one’s life. The joys, the sorrows, the struggles and the triumphs. And the fact that these beautiful souls that you’ve nourished and raised are going away. They don’t need you in the same way. They’ve even grown beyond you and most likely they have a wisdom far beyond your own wisdom. I know that I see that in my kids. I'm often in awe of them.
I recently heard a meditation teacher say, “The goal of a Master is to create more Masters, not more students.”
In the same way, we do our best to raise up our children so that they can go out into the world, thrive in their lives, and contribute to society in a meaningful way. We hope and pray that we’ve given all that we could so that they may have a deep connection to the truth and light inside of themselves and that connection inside will help them to weather any storm that may come.
In this season of graduations, endings and new beginnings, I offer these words from Buddha, to my son, to graduates, and to all of us.
“Be a light unto yourself.
Hold fast to the truth.
Look not for refuge to anyone but yourself.
The light and truth is inside of you.”
Ultimately, I'm teaching you how to relax, how to let go, and how to increase your energy. This is a relaxation like no other. It’s different from that end-of-the-week happy hour. Or collapse on the couch with a movie, or even relaxing with a book. All of those mentioned could all have their place and time, but if you want to experience the relaxation that will permeate throughout your life when your are active and when you are resting. The relaxation that will restore your health and well-being. The relaxation that will increase (not deplete) your energy. Well then, you are in the right place! The practices that I teach in TriYoga will show you how. Yoga is about letting go. It’s about truly learning how to surrender and discovering that true surrender is not about defeat but about soaring to the highest heights! It’s about learning how to live in a state of so much inner peace that the joy just comes shining through.
Constant stress, doing too much, and always being in the fight/flight/freeze state wreaks havoc on the body and mind. I teach you how to relax, not collapse. I had to retrain myself from saying to students, "relax your shoulders", as some walk around with their shoulders rolled forward or squeezed up to their ears. And, from years of holding the shoulders in this way, for some, that is relaxed. But other conditions (to numerous to mention here) have manifested from this misalignment. When I teach, I invite you to gently draw your shoulders down and back applying effort as needed, but not over effort. Not straining or forcing. But how do we find that place when the patterns have been so established? Many years ago when I first discovered that I was over-efforting, over-stretching, over-doing, I was so surprised. I didn’t even realize that I was hurting myself as my tolerance of pain was so high. It took an injury, (a pulled posterior thigh muscle), to give me the opportunity to look at how I was approaching movement and postures. And then with self-inquiry, a growing awareness, and exploration, I began to discover a new way. To heal my injury I worked intuitively and felt that I had to ease up in the way that I was practicing my postures, to where I wasn’t “feeling” anything. I would just form the shape with my body taking care to not stretch. I began to feel my bones and their natural alignments. I began to feel connections between the movements and the natural order of the body's unfoldment of one movement seamlessly into the next. I began to discover how to strengthen not just the large muscle groups, but all the tiny in-between places as well. I started to find that balance between strength and relaxation and how they each supported each other. I began to discover the direct link between my inhale and exhale and how this breath action actually moved my body.
So returning to that earlier question, “How do you find that place of not over-efforting?” “Of steadiness and ease?” “Of relaxation in action?”
This reminds me of a question that I’ve gotten from students many times:
Question: “Where should I be feeling this?”
Answer: “Where are you feeling it? "
But even so, what are you feeling? What do you think you "should" be feeling? Is there some kind of expectation of a certain feeling/sensation that you think you should be having? Pay attention to what is happening inside of you. Be curious. What does it feel like when you apply effort? When you apply more effort? Too much effort? How about easing back? What are you noticing? Is your body relaxed? Is the breath flowing also without strain? You just continue on like this. Keep Ahimsa (non-harm) at the fore-front. Every moment, every movement, an inquiry, a discovery, a surrender into the bliss of peaceful awareness.
Kashi Ananda Devi
“It helps to remember that our spiritual practice is not about accomplishing anything - not about winning or losing - but about ceasing to struggle, and simply relaxing as it is. That is what we are doing when we sit down to meditate. And that attitude spears into the rest of our lives.” ~ Pema Chodron