Ancient yama. Modern-day sandals.

The yama aparigraha and little gold sandals.
I have a pair of gold sandals. Comfortable from the moment I tried them on. I'd say they were in my closet, but, usually, I slip them off just inside the laundry room door, and, there they sit: ready for tomorrow.

About a month ago, I noticed the straps around my ankles had finally stretched too far. Loose on my feet. The metallic has sloughed and peeled in spots, leaving gaps of white. Yellow. Unpretty.

I wore them again anyway. Days and days of stooping mid-walk to reposition the straps so the sandals would stay on my feet. Make it another wear. Another week.

It's time to say goodbye to them, I know. Me, who is no pack rat, cannot seem to toss them in the trash or find a way to re-purpose. Somehow, I look at them and see lunch with an old friend, our last island trip, shoes I can walk a mile in with no blisters.

A bit silly, yes? 

Staring at me in the face is our second-to-last yama, or code of living. Aparigraha. Non-grasping. Non-hoarding. Non-attachment to material possessions.

Modern interpretation of the yama aparigraha does not mean a spare and minimalistic material life. As always with yoga, mindfulness and awareness are in play. Do I need this? Will this serve a purpose? How much is enough? 

But along with not acquiring for acquisition's sake, aparigraha is the separation between our things and who we are. This yama says not to tie our self worth to what we have (or who we know or love). It does not stuff a void or sorrow with materialism. And it does not, in any way, encourage us to form attachments to our possessions. 

Like little gold sandals. Gold sandals I'm tossing away today.... Or maybe tomorrow.

Do you ever listen to the sound of the earth?

Saturday night, I rolled the car windows down while it was raining. Listened as the droplets gently thudded the windshield. Invited the wind to rush in and meet my ears, creating music like no musician can.

For the first time in a long while, I heard thunder. Not just the rumbling noise. But the soft, subtle sound of reverberation, as it touched the sky, the asphalt, the buildings.

It was a gentle and beautiful reminder that this is the stuff life is made of. Water and air. Ether. Earth and fire. Things that were here long before us and will no doubt survive us.

Even with the many distractions at our fingertips, never does it cease to surprise me: What captivates us most is not shaped by the hands and minds of mankind. 

So listen. It brings a peace like not much else can.


What image takes.

The next job, the better car, the executive house. 
These do not stand for who we are. They are only things we have. And any fulfillment we get from them will, inevitably, be short-lived.

What is difficult is that we live in a society where these lines are blurred. One that favors having over not having. That categorizes and classifies people by assets and possessions. Making it seem natural to desire and acquire far more than we'll ever need.

But acquiring--and building and maintaining an image to the satisfaction of others--leaves little time and space to relish the joy of existence. Which is a trade you may one day be sorry you made.

Don't just live the length of your life. Fill the depth of it too.

What Do You Expect?

I remember standing in front of Stonehenge at 21. Even though Wiltshire is southwest of London, the air felt colder in the absence of trains. The wind whipped strong, plastering my jacket tight against my arms.

Looking out over the stones and the still-green countryside – a place I had never been before and may never be again ­– what ran through my head again and again was disbelief. “It looks so small. It looks so small. It looks…so small.”

Stonehenge, though, isn’t petite in scale. The largest stone stands 22 feet tall, with another 8 feet below ground. Even more amazing, it took about 30 million hours to assemble, has endured over 5,000 years and gives insight into what prehistoric man was capable of.

But none of that could register at the time. Because I expected mammoth. And when our expectations differ from reality – which so often they do – they sour and blind us from the good in and around our life. Leaving us feeling unfulfilled. Disappointed. Disgusted. Shorted. And creating much unnecessary dukha, or suffering. Often without us noticing the root cause.

On the mat, in asana, be mindful of expectations too. Just because yesterday you kicked up into headstand or balanced in side crow doesn't mean it’s guaranteed today. Expecting otherwise can zap the joy from an otherwise beautiful practice.

Or one of the world’s wonders.

Occupy Your Life.

All through dinner, I sat quietly. Went back and forth on what to write for this post. J chatted between bites of risotto. I heard his voice, but nothing registered until I felt a question hanging in the air. Emptiness where my answer should've been. And then came the realization: I had no idea what he said.

Sure, it's not startling. It happens (or has happened) to almost all of us. Our inner dialogue gets the best of us. Sweeps us away, and, in turn, closes us off from the connections we could making. The experiences we could be having. And the richness we could be cultivating. 

When you're preoccupied, it's hard to occupy your life.