Staying in Practice When We Need it the Most
It is hard to believe that we are about to head into the final month of the year! I hope that while the busy holiday season is setting upon us, that you are able to take nature's lead in finding still and quiet moments. This time of year is always exciting for me, as I know it's a built in opportunity to spend time with family that live out of the area. Family gatherings were always important when I was growing up, and now that I live further away, I miss being able to see them on a more frequent basis. But I have also learned, that we can be blessed in life with a rich and full community that can feel like family too. One of the many things that community and family can offer is support. We all need it. Whether we are going through a difficult time or celebrating a joy - being able to connect with a group of people that can hold and uplift you is such a gift. Sangha, is a sanskrit word meaning "association", "assembly," "company" or "community" and most commonly refers in Buddhism to the monastic community of monks and nuns. In yoga, it is used to describe the community that comes together in practice. When you are about to embark upon a physical and spiritual journey, it is helpful to have support. While yoga is an inward journey - a way of deepening the connection and union of oneself, it also leads us to be able to deepen the connection with one another. It is undoubtable that at some point along the way, challenge will arise. And in yoga, while we all encounter challenging moments on the mat with particular postures, I think one of the most universal challenges that everyone faces, is creating the time for practice and self care. It is much easier to be consistent with taking care of ourselves when life is going well. But the minute we become busier, something difficult in our life arises, or we are find ourselves to be under great stress, most often the first thing to go is self care. We prioritize ourselves last, and then all of a sudden we hear ourselves saying - I don't have time.
I don't have time to practice,
I don't have time to meditate,
I don't have time to breathe...... The moment you hear yourself say, "I don't have time", is quite likely the indicator that you need to be in practice. It's like the Zen Proverb: "You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day - unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour." This proverb used to perplex me as I at first didn't understand it; now I find it rather funny. I know all too well the pull towards busyness and the feeling that I have so much to do and so many others to take care of, that I too have said, "I don't have time." But here's the thing. When we prioritize ourselves last, we do the most harm. While we think we are being most beneficial by getting things done and taking care of others, we are not at our best if we are not taking care of ourselves. Furthermore, if we continue to live our life without self care, eventually we could wind up in a place of no longer being able to care for anyone at all, let alone ourselves. Arriving to self care is not easy.
It requires commitment.
It requires that you value you.
And I honestly cannot think of anything greater; than to commit to YOU. To commit to your growth, to your health, and your overall well being. This is why many come to yoga. The beautiful thing about practicing yoga with others, and finding a supportive group - your sangha, is that you are immersed with people that are all committed to the same thing.
When you stumble, they are there to help pick you up and to encourage you to keep going. We each have our own journey and only we can walk the steps we need to walk, but your sangha will be there to support you along the way. Through sangha, we can experience the exchange of energy and ideas that can inspire us; and that can enrich our growth and understanding of both this practice and what it is to be human.
Over the last 10 years, I have been humbled and honored to be part of a wonderful "sangha" - my yoga community where I live. To have held and been upheld, to have led and to have followed, to have shared both laughter and tears, effort and ease.
Let us reach out to each other always so that we know that we are not alone in this journey.
As Ram Dass said, "We're all just walking each other home."