Thursday, January 12, 2012

Letting the Ocean Instruct, Part II: Receiving the Gift of Life

Despite my intentions of slowing down the pace a bit this year, so much has been going on! So, this is my new year’s blog, a few days late, and hopefully better for the percolating.
I am a person who really likes to mark time; I love the rhythm of the year, the celebration of holidays, the thresholds, the in-between times, the moments where you sense that something new is possible.  Every moment is a threshold moment, containing the possibility for revelation and change, truth be told, but it seems that certain moments present themselves more obviously as such.  And so, not surprisingly, I relish the end of the year, and even look forward to this contemplation and intention-setting time for weeks ahead.  It helps that I’m usually able to nestle in to this process at a cozy coffee shop in Chapel Hill, NC, outside of my normal routine.  This place has a back porch that meanders out into the woods and invites lingering.  It is lovely on a winter’s day.
Before rushing into listing all of the things I’d like to do differently in the year to come (which turns out isn’t what happened at all this year!), I spend ample time looking back on what gifts the waning year has given.  There have been many, there always are.  They have come in the form of friends and challenging folks, opportunities and roadblocks, teachers and students, beginnings, endings, changing forms, great music, glorious food, sunlight through magnificent live oaks, the ocean.  I have been able to actually receive all of these gifts of the previous year because of the supreme gift of yoga, and of Anusara yoga in particular, and all that has been received has brought me to a place of a deeper engagement with life, a deeper responsibility for the freedom that is mine, and more cohesion and steadiness to the powerful light that shines within.  For me, this time of reflection is crucial to actually fully receive what is being offered.  The nature of the universe is that it’s always offering itself to us, always, and always in more ways than we can possibly imagine.  Yoga has taught me how to pay attention and acknowledge more of what’s being offered than I had before, to see the old and familiar in new ways, to penetrate to the essence of the moment, at least some of the time!  And in that attention, acknowledgement, and appreciation that what is being presented is a precious gift, even if it does not seem so at first, I am actually able to receive even more fully what is being given, and in that space of full receptivity, I can make the most of those gifts and even grow them into something greater.  This is the yoga, to apprehend the threshold that exists in each moment, enter into that seam and make of it something only we can.
I was reminded of the lavish giving of this world and also of how easy it is not to pay any attention to it during our trip to the beach (see the last post) right before Christmas.  The town was mostly deserted, deliciously quiet, and we were staying in a condo with the balcony overlooking the ocean, overlooking the ocean!!  And still, I forgot.  There it is, this vast, magnificent sea, right outside my door, the waves always coming in and going out, at once dependable and wild, and for long stretches of time I get caught going in circles in my head about something or other, caught in busy-ness, until my dear teacher of a husband reminds me that there’s an ocean out there.  And, every time, as soon as I pay attention, my breathing deepens, my mind drops into my body, and I am myself again.  This experience is being presented to us all the time in the breath itself, which is giving us our aliveness unconditionally always.  There is no obligation to pay attention and we will continue being breathed. We don’t actually have to receive the gift, but we find that when we do, we’re not only alive, but lively, more of who it is we already are. 
If you’ve not already, I invite you to spend some moments acknowledging what you been given this year. What is that you are always being given?  If you are a yoga practitioner, what specifically have been the gifts of the practice for you?  There’s no obligation to receive them, but if you do, it’ll be worth it, I promise!  Enough for now…I leave you to linger on this side of the threshold before offering my experience of intentions for the new year.


  1. Ms. Flora, what a wonderfully gifted and evocative writer you are! Please DO keep up the blogging, as it is a rare pleasure to read. Truly!


  2. I love the concept of "receiving" and looking at everything we are presented with in life as a gift, whether we perceive it as good at the time or not. I have been trying to do that more and am finding it a great practice in order to "live in the present moment." Thanks for sharing your experience of this.

    1. Thanks, Katie, it is QUITE a practice indeed.