sunset
Sunset on Mt. Desert Island

My mom took this photo! I am so proud of her, her talents, and her care. We were very lucky to take a trip to Maine together, this spring, where she took this photo.

In most of the yoga classes I teach, there is a point early in the class when I invite people to set a devotion or intention for the class. For the longest time, both as a student and a teacher, I had been comfortable with the cue to choose a person I know who may need some, well, prayer power, or “healing energy sent their way.” Often it was someone who was fighting a disease or other challenge, or simply someone for whom that day, I felt a certain appreciation.

In this, my 15th month of teaching yoga, using that phrasing, when teaching or just practicing, no longer feels genuine. It almost feels too esoteric or new-agey for me. I don’t necessarily feel that I’ve lost faith in the power of the mind and human connection. What I do feel is that it’s sort of a cop-out, for me. Those moments in the class, or even for the duration whole class, if I can manage 60 minutes of focus (still rare), are precious, rare moments that I am given to ruminate.

Ruminate? Less loaded than “meditate,” but that’s what I mean. To reflect on something. While I could laser my thoughts onto an ailing friend, the times I’ve tried it when I’ve chosen, say, one of the Yamas or Niyamas, it’s really brought something extra to the yoga practice, and I usually feel even more refreshed after the final relaxation pose.

For example, today. I set aside about 30 minutes to put together the class I need to teach this evening. As I settled into child’s pose, I thought about something I realized at breakfast, this morning. It’s not an anniversary I want to celebrate, but five years ago today, my sister-in-law committed suicide. As I sipped my coffee, the memory of that day instantly filled me with anger, then dread, then love. My healing has begun but today it felt like the only change was that the intensity has only faded a little; my angle on what it all meant feels fairly steady. Anger at God, for letting people get so sad and lonely, dread over wondering if this date will impact my husband’s day, and love and compassion for my husband and everyone that was close to Jenny. Then, love and appreciation for people that are still with us in this life.

Like, my mom.

So, my devotion for my yoga practice earlier today was simply “contentment:” noting and savoring the riches that I do have in this life. These include the conversations I continue to have with my mom, as well as the memories of Jenny that continue on, in her absence.

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