Monday Meditation: Hope

Many years ago I was in a heated debate with a friend of mine about the deeper meaning of life, religion, and why humanity continues to endure, despite the many tragedies and roadblocks that befall us. At one point, I asked him what got him out of bed in the morning and he half-jokingly said, “my alarm clock.” We laughed. When he asked me, my answer was “hope.”

 

The kind of hope that each day holds fresh promise, opportunities to make a difference, the hope that – even in the face of challenging times – there is always a greater good. Hope that doesn’t involve naivete or delusion, but a basic belief in life and humanity.

 

This week, given the events that have taken over the news, and with the advent of the holiday season, I am making the Monday meditation about hope, and the role it plays in our lives.

 

Hope can mean to expect, to trust, to anticipate, to wish, to look forward to, to desire. But how does it resonate with you today, this week? What image or images comes to mind when you say the word “hope”?

 

I have many hopes today, but I will share this one: I hope that everyone is able to find peace in their hearts this holiday season.



More Than Just a Yoga Pose

What Tree Pose Can Teach Us

 

Every pose in yoga has specific physical benefits. These benefits are what draw many people to yoga in the first place. But what I witness my clients learning — and what has kept me falling in love with my yoga practice over and over again in the last 19 years — are the many-layered lessons that each pose can offer us. Today I’m going to focus on one of my favourites: Tree pose.

 

 

Like many balancing poses, tree pose requires strength and flexibility. But neither of these can be achieved effectively without a sturdy foundation. It doesn’t matter how strong our legs or core are or how flexible our hips and upper bodies, if we are not grounded through the feet of our standing legs we will topple over. Likewise, in life: if we are not grounded or steady in who we are, no amount of strength or flexibility can prevent us from losing our balance.

 

Healthy trees strike the perfect equilibrium between foundation, strength and flexibility. Healthy trees grow deep roots. They are strong enough to withstand heavy gusts or gentle breezes, yet they have the flexibility to move and sway with the winds of all seasons. An unhealthy tree becomes rigid, inflexible, and will snap or crack when the wind blows too hard.

 

When we practice tree pose, the intention is to be a healthy tree, one that is rooted and strong but allows us to move gently with our breath. By staying grounded and working with our strength and flexibility, we can maintain balance. But if we focus too much on being still or rigid, that is when we are likely to fall out of the pose.

 

Tree pose as a metaphor for life?

 

When we develop a strong sense of who we are and what we stand for, we have a sturdy foundation. Once we have this foundation, we can develop the inner and outer strength to withstand both the calm and stormy days, and the flexibility to move and sway with the changing nature of our lives.

 

 

 

 



Monday Meditation: Desiderata

You know those passages of writing that resonate with you, the ones that seem to speak to the fabric of who you are? And as time passes, the words and ideas within the passage remain just as significant, even though they may affect you in different ways? This poem – Desiderata – is one of those pieces of writing for me.

 

“Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

 

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

 

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

 

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

 

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

 

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

 

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

 

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

 

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann c.1920

 

 

During my university years, a poster of the Desiderata poem adorned the wall of my various student-housing bedrooms. Then someone gave me a framed version of Desiderata written in beautiful calligraphy which hung proudly in my real-world-no-longer-a-student apartments. The passage was, throughout these years, my manifesto, my way of approaching life and the world around me. But somewhere along the timeline of moving abroad, then moving back to Toronto and into a place with my now husband, between having kids and changing the décor of our lives, the poem got put away. And I forgot about it.

 

Until a few weeks ago, when I noticed a poster of Desiderata on the basement wall at a client’s house. I was struck once again by its power. It stuck with me all that day, and the next. So much so that I sought it out online and have read and re-read it numerous times since.

 

Rediscovering this passage has affected me so much that, for this week’s Monday meditation, I’m changing things up a little. Instead of offering up a topic or idea to focus and meditate upon this week, I’m inviting you read Desiderata every day.  And after each reading, let your heart decide which idea(s) you want to bring into your meditation on that particular day.

 

Every time I read Desiderata, it inspires me in some way. It reminds me of the many things in life I hold dear, and of the way I want to live my days. And yet the passage can be broken down into so many deeper and powerful ideas. I hope that as you meditate upon some of them this week, you’ll appreciate this poem as much as I do. And please let me know what resonates with you.

 

May you go placidly amidst the noise and haste this week.