As I stand on the precipice of a major milestone, I find myself at odds with what I know and with what I feel. What I know is that age in years is really just a number and that state of mind and attitude figures much more prominently in the measure of a human life. What I feel is another matter as I assess the face in the mirror, bemoan the loss of my childbearing years and relinquish my identity as a “young woman”.
The cornerstone of yoga philosophy is predicated on the principle of “being present with the way things are” and as a practicing yogini, I am committed to upholding this principle. Even as my ego wants to hide behind pretense or avoid acknowledging “what is”, I know that my inner salvation and freedom depends upon “living my truth”.
The truth is that, in a few days time, I turn 60 years old. The truth is also, that I feel more healthy, vibrant, vital and energized than I ever have before at any stage of my life. And I can honestly say that yoga has been my lifeline, directing my inner compass & outer expression, and landing me here in a life that is second to none.
The physical practice of Asana and Pranayama create & sustain a healthy, functioning body. Practicing the Yamas & Niyamas keep me accountable to myself, to others and the natural world. The rich Hindu mythology provides powerful metaphors that inspire me and infuse my life with intention. Meditation allows for a mind that is sharp, clear and focused.
This practice is a never-ending journey of cultivating acceptance for the parts of myself I’m in love with that sit side by side with the parts of myself I struggle with; This never-ending practice helps me to cultivate acceptance for the way life does and doesn’t turn out the way I’d hoped or planned. This key principle of yoga called “Annica” or impermanence, is a tool to artfully navigate the ups & downs inherent in any life; the payoff is what the yogis call “Moksha” or liberation- the freedom to rise above “striving”, “having or not having” “pleasure & avoidance” and to simply connect to our true nature which is the one thing that never changes.
So with 59 years behind me and less time ahead, who and what am I now and what has practice instilled in me?
- I honor the wisdom and knowledge accumulated in these years and the blessed perspective I have on what is truly important: family, friends and relationships in my life.
- I’m no longer pressured by trying to “find myself”, figure out who I am and how I want to live – My dharma as a teacher is clear and directive; It is the source of tremendous inner fulfillment and gratification. My dharma as parent to a now teenage daughter is my most important role and the hardest job I’ve ever had; after years of struggling to figure out “how” to parent, I have learned that the only thing I need to do perfectly is love her wholeheartedly and trust & support her in her own growth.
- I feel more than ever the preciousness of each moment and in this divided world, finding a way to be a conduit for kindness, compassion and generosity in whatever way I can.
And because turning 60 years old doesn’t alter the fact that I’m human, fallible and mercifully imperfect – that I will continue to stumble, fall, learn, grow and stumble again. . .I think I’ll just keep practicing yoga.