Today has been one of those days when every one I talked to was having issues of some kind. There was a whole litany of physical complaints—back pain, knee pain, foot pain, etc.—what I refer to as “issues in the tissues”. Obviously the human body is a very imperfect thing and is subjected to a vast array of challenges on a daily basis. It’s only natural that things go amiss every now and then. Normally when I ask my yoga students how they’re doing they respond with “great” or “good” or, at least, “okay”. This morning people were saying things like “I really need a hug”, “I’m feeling kind of sad and lonely today”, and “I’ve been better.” I’m not sure why every one was being so candid today, but I was feeling the same kind of angst as well. For the past month I’ve been abnormally busy with travel and workshops and trainings—too many airports and airplanes, too many time zones and climate changes, too many strange beds and lousy nights of sleep, too much work and not enough rest, too much vata derangement. Usually I’m much more intelligent and compassionate when it comes to arranging my out of town teaching schedule, spacing things out to allow some rest and recovery time in between, but thus far 2017 has been a lesson in “How to Burn Myself Out in 30 Days.” You’d think after all these years I’d know better. This morning I had the opportunity to do a full yoga practice for the first time in nearly two weeks and it was just what the doctor ordered. It left me feeling calm and grounded and ready to face whatever life throws at me—it’s a good thing because I have another cross-country trip coming up this weekend!
My 15 year-old daughter Leela was also in angst mode when I picked her up from school this afternoon. She goes to a private school that is academically rigorous and sometimes stressful for her. Currently she’s working on an oration for English class. Her chosen topic is: “The power of the honest narrative—embracing uncertainty and imperfection.” I think it’s a brilliant topic for Leela because she’s an extremely sensitive and intelligent kid who thinks deeply about such things, but I guess her English teacher had a very lukewarm response when she presented the idea to him. I asked her what kind of topics her classmates were choosing and she said, “Things like ‘The importance of cleaning your room’, and ‘Investing in the stock market’”. It seems that Leela and I share a certain perspective on the human condition: Human life is a complicated and somewhat messy affair. If we are willing to be open to life and engage in some honest self-appraisal we often find our selves in a state of vulnerability that can leave us feeling anxious or sad when confronted with the harsh realities of life. On the other hand, it is only by embracing this vulnerability that allows us to live an authentic life, make real connections with people, and open our selves to the possibility of real joy and fulfillment. When I was flying home from Mexico last Saturday I had a stopover in Houston and was having a bite to eat. After holding the space all week for 35 students I suddenly felt lonely so I sent texts to my wife, daughter, and son. My son called me immediately and we chatted for a few moments. Carol and Leela both responded with sweet text messages. For a moment I felt myself settle deeply into my heart and I thought to myself, “I remember this place, this is me. I’ve really missed myself.” As we head towards Valentine’s Day next week my sincere wish is for greater ease of heart for all of us.