We may have all heard this before: “Embrace the moment” but what exactly does that mean to you today? For many people embracing the moment in the current climate is something that seems impossible. It seemed easier when they had a job, thought they had their retirement set and had health insurance. And now they don’t have these things. That is the reality for many. People are losing homes, relationships are strained by the pressures and loving families are having to give their pets up to shelters. Are these things we can embrace? What does it mean to embrace them? Embrace brings up images of loving joy in receiving something that makes us happy. How can we embrace the now if it is filled with uncertaintly?
The truth is that there is no certainty for anyone. I have seen friends who are married to men with lots of money, seemingly having all they want, beautiful children especially, and then they get hit with life threatening illnesses. No one is assured that anything they embrace will guarantee good fortune and health. A few years ago I was asked to teach a very wealthy businessmand how to mediatate. Unfortunately his brother was dying of cancer and he said he could not meditate because it brought up thoughts of his brother. Of course it would for a learning practitoner. That is what the mind deos first. To train it to observe and not judge or be freaked out by what comes up only comes with practice. Needless to say the man gave up the sessions rather quickly. Meditation does not solve the problems; it helps our mind handles them better. Being unable to sit with his thoiughts for even a minite he gace up trying. He also said he felt like he was missing out on “doing” and all that life was when he just sat. Actually our doing becomes more effective when we have a meditation practice and allow our minds and bodies to stop doing but just be abd observe ona regular basis, ideally the same time and place daily.
So where does yoga come into all these seemingly nonuplifting circumstances? The test of a true yoga practitioner is not how they do when things are going great but how they do when things are not. Recently we had the opprotunity to offer our first small teacher training at Sewall House. Amidst the immersions in yoga technology and methodology we had Linda Rowe, a yoga teacher from Houlton, join us to lead our discussions on Yoga Sutras Chapters One and Two. Linda talked a lot about the lessons life gives us and that she would much prefer the “feather” lessons to the “brick” ones.
That image seemed like a good one to relate to what many people are experiencing these days in their lives. Even though most of us would opt for a feather over a brick, sometimes the brick comes sailing our way anyway. It seems all these extreme changes in our lives may be one of the reasons yoga is catching on so much in the last few years. An ancient science comes full circle to help us look differently at the material things that have so consumed us so we can instead look inwardly. How could being laid off be a good thing? Maybe we have had no time to really look at ourselves and our short life and what we want to be and do and give, what is REALLY important to us in the scheme of it all. Without health insurance we can take measures to be prevantative in our own health care and risk less need for expensive health care if we eat healthier (which in yoga means eliminating meat), do away with alcohol and drugs and watch even our thoughts and how they affect our health. The asanas, or poses, in yoga offer a proven way to holistically exercise the body, helping the internal organs nerves and mind. Even if you don’t practice yoga for spiritual purposes or as a llifestyle but simply as an exercise this can greatly benefit your mind and body, as well as your way of breathing.
This is not to lessen the challenges and stress that big changes in our life can create.
These things are real. Yet in yoga we get a moment to step back and perhaps change the way we experience and look at these things. One woman at our retreat had to cut her staff at her business but said it actually helped them priorituze who was truly useful in their job. One young man discovered that the fast paced acievement oriented life in NY was not helping his overall life experience, especillay when he had a recurrence of a tumor that he had been free of for five yeasr before moving into this lifestyle. He began to change his eating habits, take up yoga and even try meditation; he also decided to leave his job for six months and is on the way to creating his own job and lifestyle in his homeland of Australia, maving the way to embrace the changes that will make his life more meaningful to him a s a laywer, husband and man in our society. Often we think our lives should be one way but circumstances arrive to urge us to see it CAN be another way.
Our time on earth is short. Yoga, an ancient science, has come full circle to help us handle the challenges of the information age. My teacher Yogi Bhajan suggested that the information age we are in would be tough for many. He suggested we help these people through the changes with our experiences and with the teachings of yoga that we can share with others. Ultimately it is up to the student to practice the teachings and honor the process on the way. Our job is to direct and have compassion for the oneness in us all, embracing each person as an individual on their own journey that hopefully we can assist them with in some small way.

Author's Bio: 

Donna (Amrita) Davidge, owner of Sewall House Yoga Retreat in Maine, has been teaching yoga since the mid 80's, receiving her spiritual name directly from Yogi Bhajan, and has pursued studies in Ashtanga and Iyengar based yoga, as well as with Dharma Mittra. She is the yoga columnist for Inner Tapestry, has travelled extensively, has a Masters in Nutrition and is 500 Hr E-RYT with Yoga Alliance, teaching students from all walks of life and running teacher trainings in Maine as well as teaching in NY City at places like Golden Bridge NYC and the Open Center.