To Be Seen and Heard

May I be a guard for those who are protectorless,
A guide for those who journey on the road.
For those who wish to go across the water,
May I be a boat, a raft, a bridge.
May I be an isle for those who yearn for landfall,
And a lamp for those who long for light.
--Shantideva

Recently, I was having a conversation with a fellow yoga teacher who was talking about working in a hospital setting with patients who are experiencing chronic pain. She talked about the success she was having with these students and I asked her what she thought was the most important thing about teaching them. She said, "they really need to be seen by someone," that they needed someone to behold and be a witness to their bodies and spirits as they endeavored to do the practices. That really struck me, and it was a reminder to me to really watch my yoga students with my fullest heartfelt attention. But, it means and implies even so much more. 

So much of our dissatisfaction in life comes from the fact that we are not truly seen and heard by those around us, whether it is by a parent, a partner or a boss. When others don't listen to what we are saying or when they don't see the truths of our lives, it can be very painful. If we constantly have to repeat ourselves because our partner is distracted and not listening, or if we are judged by a parent rather than understood by him or her, it is unsettling. This is especially true for children when their uniqueness, their gifts and sorrows are not validated by the people around them. All of this is not unrelated to our abilities to accept ourselves and be present for our own lives. So, the assignment is easy, though not simple to actually do - be present for ourselves and be present for others. How can we practice this?

Cultivating this presence, the ability to observe what is happening in our own minds and bodies and to notice this in others requires compassion and generosity; compassion in the sense that we acknowledge our shared humanity and don't judge what is happening, and generosity in the sense that we take the time to do it, we offer ourselves to the moment rather than to some other habitual pattern, distraction or indulgence. All of this can be centered, buoyed and strengthened on the yoga mat and meditation cushion.

Taking the time to do the practices are the ultimate act of generosity to ourselves. When we do them, we try to practice compassionate, non-judgmental awareness of what is happening, from the seemingly unimportant twitch in our big toe to the sense of release we feel in a spinal twist. All of it is important. And slowly we come to know ourselves, and love ourselves more than we ever thought possible.  As we become more content in our bodies/minds and less distracted, we become better able to be a witness to the experiences of those around us. We become more connected with everything, and in a better position to act in a way that is skillful.

So, thank you for your practice, whatever it may be, and may the fruits manifest in your homes and communities this holiday season.



Diving Deep: Winter Solstice Yoga and Meditation Retreat
Sunday, December 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


Come join me for a day in the Hilltowns where we will do yoga, meditate, reflect on the year and set intentions for the new one. We will also drink delicious homemade chai and eat good food! Consider bringing a friend or loved one with you! Send me an e-mail if you have any questions - llpyles@gmail.com.

Pre-registration is required. There are still spaces open so sign up here today: http://bit.ly/1pSSMhh


Workshops, Trainings and Retreats


Workshops, trainings and keynotes for helping professionals, activists and yoga students. All workshops are designed for the specific context and/or organizational need. Fees are negotiated on a case-by-case basis.

 

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