"Squirrels are busy stuffing their cheeks and boroughs with seeds, nuts and grain. A pair of woodpeckers and their brood of fledglings gather at the birdbath and speak to each other in soft chirps. Between sips of water they dance around the rim of bath. Held by Nature, their only purpose is to continue their species and seeking meaning is not with in the realm of their awareness. Life is their purpose.
At the juncture of Autumn Equinox I ponder the threshold that marks diminishing light and lengthening shadows. On this particular day we are embraced by equal day and night. We are placed in the seam between contrary complements, between light and dark, between what was and what can be. Indian summer is found in the seam between summer's vibrant glory and autumn's golden splendor. Summer's contentment turns to autumn's wistful longing and my heart and mind turn toward the following words.
"Life has no meaning and no purpose." These words were spoken to Dr. Douglas Brooks by his teacher many years ago. His teacher concluded that statement with "and isn't that wonderful!"
How, one might imagine, can anything so seemingly grim be wonderful? I have had the opportunity to contemplate and live these words. Lately I have been having visceral experiences of their truest and deepest meanings, true, at least, for me.
This time last year my days were consumed with busy-ness. I needed to be distracted from many things, including the death of my beloved dog Farley, a failing real estate market and the fact that my husband, Justin, and I would not be living under the same roof until our house in Edwards sold.
I pulled weeds, I did my yoga practice, I sat in mediation, I read, I wrote, I stayed on top of the remodel of the third level of our retreat center. I kept busy because I needed to. Too much emotion was boiling under the surface. The "to do" list went on and on. I was not allowing myself to process what really needed to be processed. If I stopped I felt lost and that was what I was avoiding. My "to do" list gave my life meaning and purpose.
A year later, grief's razor edge has softened into sweet remembrance. The real estate market, no news to report there, and Justin and myself are still separated by the two hours and fifteen minutes it takes to drive here when he has a night off.
What has changed is my experience of my days. When I am teaching or preparing to teach my days are full and rich, I have purpose and my time is very meaningful. When I am home alone, I see how utterly empty and void of any kind of meaning or purpose my days can be if I allow it. I see how only I can give meaning to my days, to my life. This is a daunting realization and at the same time very empowering. This is the "wonderful" part that Douglas' teacher was referring to.
At the end of a day, at the end of a life are there memories to savor or regrets to push away? This time of year, as the days are growing shorter, and the stirrings of the soul are increasing, my attention is drawn to this sort of contemplation. Out of the vast diversity of creation only humans can contemplate and seek and create meaning and purpose. As the wheel of the year turns and there is more of 2009 behind us than in front of us, what is your experience, what are your thoughts, your hopes and desires? What have you offered, what have your received? What meaning and purpose have you created?
I am eternally grateful to John Friend and Dr. Douglas Brooks for the guidance and insights they have offered throughout the years I have studied with them. The Anusara Yoga® Universal Principles of Alignment™ offer the formula for creating meaning and purpose. Open to what life is offering to you, embrace it if you choose, refine with your heart, mind and effort and, finally, offer with fullness of heart.
One of the greatest teachings I have received from Dr. Brooks came in the form of several questions, "What do you want, how much do you want it and what are you willing to do about it?" When I remember to employ this wisdom I create meaning and purpose. My life is of value and I have something to offer. Not too bad for just another day.
Life is a gift and it is up to each one of us to decide how we want to receive it, how we want to shape it and how we want to offer it. Each day, at every moment we can create meaning and value. We are always "Poised for Grace", poised to receive Grace, poised to offer Grace. The opportunity to "Open to Grace" is in the seam between contrary complements. It resides in the gaps between here and there, now and then and you and me. This opportunity is there for everyone. The question is not "do we receive this opportunity", but rather "how well are we taking advantage of this opportunity?"
Each one of you who is receiving this letter is a gift in my life and has offered the opportunity for so much meaning. I appreciate your dedication to your yoga, to yourself and to this path. Let's keep getting together to do yoga. This practice refines our skills and keeps us centered and connected even if we are miles apart. As one beautiful interpretation of Namaste reminds us "when I am in my heart and you are in yours, we are one." Nothing could be more meaningful and purposeful than that.
The inner journey and the outer landscape are a reflection of each other. Create meaning and purpose in one and see it reflected back to you in the other. It's your life, live it on purpose, Live Deeply™."
Love and blessings,
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