Give something unwrappable.

Yesterday, I saw a sign on a shop door: SIX DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS! I still hadn't shopped for Jason. So off I went. The sporting goods store. TJMaxx. Macy's. 


Except that feeling of being completely uninspired.

"Why is this so hard?" I wondered, wandering around, one shirt in my arms (for me). A woman bumped into me with her cart. Two children were crying nearby. People were picking items up. Putting them down. Getting in line. Standing. Waiting. Arguing.

I hung the shirt back on the rack and closed my eyes for a minute. Trying to find center and not seeing it anywhere. "I should go," I told myself. Too tired. Too frustrated. When I let my eyelids open, my gaze connected--for a split second--with a stranger passing by. She looked at me and smiled. 

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It felt like a gift.

The presents we bestow this time of year, what we carefully place under the tree, deserve far less consideration and importance than the everyday gestures, the presence, the gifts within us. The ones that are impossible to wrap but so very simple to give. The ones that light up the season and can be delivered to someone in need, at just the right moment and just the right time without any thought, inspiration or planning. Not by a man in a sleigh or a red suit. But by us, as we are.

Namaste' and best wishes for the most joyous gifts of the season.


Raising the white flag.

After many written communications, Robert E. Lee and General Grant decided to meet in Appomattox. It was April 9, 1865. Lee’s men ­– his army – were tired. Exhausted. Weary. Surrounded.
No way out. A last resort.
I hear the word and I feel unease. The defeat in every syllable. The end of the rope. A pair of cards folding on the table. A white flag raising admist chaos.
But what about surrender in grander terms? Does it hold the same negative anxiousness? Surrender, I mean, in regards to, not just every now and then acts, but as a part of our everyday living. The yoga practice of ishvara-pranidhana, one of Patanjali’s niyamas, or internal disciplines. Surrendering to a higher power.
God. The universe. Science. Surrender, ishvara-pranidhana, does not require a single belief point or source. Single-mindedness. Or perfection.
What I find most challenging about this niyama is breaking long-rooted beliefs in how we view control. Control, we say, is positive. It makes us the navigators of our own lives. Our work. Our path. Our love. Our plan. And it provides comfort in a chaotic world.
But control is an illusion. A pretty fa├žade on a building that cannot be entered before it is time; its rooms, its walls, its state all unknown until the day life pushes us inside.
Four and a half years ago, I started to have health problems that rattled everything I thought was in my purview. A healthy lifestyle, exercise, was supposed to save me from becoming sick with anything, including this autoimmune disorder I got. But it did not ­– because the life of our bodies, is, scary as it sounds, largely out of our control.
The first response to illness is to grab tighter to the things we think we can control. We hold our jobs closer. Our family. Plan our days and the rest of our lives with new knowledge and awareness but fiercer grasping. And then we try to find our footing again in the world.
But such a tight grip is not sustainable. We cannot control how our todays or tomorrows unravel. Ishvara-pranidhana is not giving up, but letting go. Allowing some of the anxiousness of life and hardship to fall through our fingertips. It is the acknowledgement that, for the success of all humankind, our will has to take second to the will of the Universe. Trusting it to give abundance, and, yes, sometimes, take it away. 
Surrender. Let it bring ease. 

Photo credit | via Pinterest