This year was unlike any year we may have ever known and all the while revealing how precious and how fleeting life can be.
Regardless of how we may choose to safeguard our health, spirit, families and finances – there are events outside of our control that can irrecoverably alter our lives.
This is really the primary realization of why we practice Yoga.
The first step on the path is when we ask, why is there suffering? Is there a way to be free from this suffering?
Here is a story I have heard often in my travels to India.
There is a Maharaja, a great king, who goes walking in the forest with his retinue, and one day along his beautiful walk, he steps on a thorn that painfully pierces his foot. It causes acute suffering. And after the thorn is expertly removed, his suffering continues. Even in healing, he feels lasting pain.
It is unacceptable to this mighty king that his forest could cause him such injury.
He calls all his advisors together.
He demands that they find a solution and create a plan to eliminate all thorns from the entire forest grounds.
One advisor proposes, Your Majesty, we must cover the entire floor of all the forests in leather. This can soften and protect your feet and you may freely wander and roam as you wish.
The Maharaja thinks this is an amazing idea.
And all of those gathered seem to suddenly agree with the King.
And so quickly and enthusiastically, a plan begins to form of how to gather all the tens of thousands of animals to provide all the skins and how many laborers will be needed and the exact method for systematically and strategically covering the entire ground of all the forest.
There was one advisor present who did not agree with this plan. He was the king’s Yogi.
And when this plan just seemed to sound so far reaching and to require that the whole population be indentured into changing the entire forest for the pleasure of the king and the ease of his daily walks, the Old Yogi stepped forward.
If I may?
It seems to me that to protect the royal feet of our royal king, we need not gather the leather to cover an entire forest.
We need only gather the leather to make a single pair of sandals for you, Your Majesty.
And then you may safely and securely be free from the suffering of thorns upon your path wherever you may roam.
Yoga is that practice.
Yoga as mindfulness, meditation, awareness, focussed asana, breathing, visualization, chanting, reading and reflection – any of these practices shift our experience of our own mind and our own experience to freedom from suffering.
It is our individual practice, that pair of sandals that I wear, that protects me.
It means, though we may rally against injustice and cry out with sorrow, we feel a desperation and a rage against the injustice of suffering and a demand to change the whole world now as the antidote and solution to end acute suffering – surely a monumental and unattainable task. The Yogi reminds us, it is also misguided. Rather we have the tools, individually, these practices and techniques, that can lead us to the understanding of our own identity, our precious self, this precious and fleeting experience of time, and to step into the role of a witness raising ourselves out of stress, fear, rage and hopelessness.
And as we do, it is from a place of peace, that we can best safeguard our families, and participate in our communities to support actions that foster compassionate transformation and develop our communities to benefit the many.
I have heard many people share the gift of lessons they learned at this time, of uncovering and acting on what is most important, getting back to the basics, seeing what is essential.
Many of you know that I launched an online learning platform and have shared 100s of hours of tutorials to thrive in mind and body, yoga, meditation, expert events, sutra chanting and philosophy. KikiTV.Life has been a fulfilling and productive project and an opportunity to share decades of knowledge and insights with wonderful students and seekers.
As for success coaching. I had a few yoga teachers join my Yoga Success Training just as the world shifted and changed how we would teach yoga – moving form the classroom to the Zoom room – and was so inspired to guide all my coaching clients and these newcomers to life changing meaning and income earning success sharing their yoga gifts and passion to teach and serve.
I also worked individually with several female entrepreneurs in transforming from corporate work to heart-centered wellness businesses and witnessed in amazement as hearts and minds blossomed like lotus.
As for myself?
I looked at what is essential and precious, how fleeting and momentary time is, and identified my life’s longing and what is essential for me. And so I struck out on a life of travel and adventure. I had a plan that I began to devise and dream out 2 years ago, to live and travel on my sailboat. I had no sailboat. Had not sailed since he age of 16, and even then not in any significant way. When I shared this dream with DH (Dear Heart as one’s beloved is called in nautical traditions) he thought I had suddenly gone mad.
Two years from that initial desire, and after two years of sailing lessons, and a summer of sailing with a sailing co-op, I found myself purchasing a lovely little 29-foot sailboat from 1968 and beginning an adventure that has opened a world before me as I began in the Hudson River and now find myself in South Carolina, a beautiful part of the world I have never visited before.
The adventurer has the thrill and gift of seeing everything anew, and the sailor in particular, of meeting Mother Nature in all her elemental forms of wind (or no wind) sea, sky, sun, moon and stars, fauna and flora of air and land and sea.
I did not plan to leave the Hudson River but soon found myself sailing by the majestic Lady Liberty in New York Harbor and past Coney Island’s Wonder Wheel as dolphins leapt alongside white capped ocean waves and delighted our passage.
I sailed to the area in the Long Island Sound where I learned to sail as a child and tied off to a dock and met a childhood friend on his boat at the nearby marina we had launched our Sunfish from as children.
And as I sailed into the great Long Island Sound and joined a tradition of sailors, every day a door opened to a sirens call to sail one more day.
I am writing you from my Bristol 29 where I woke this morning to a sky and waterway of amber and rose quartz.
Wishing a Happy New Year to you and all those you love.
Thank you for your kindness and being part of a community that I hope I can continue to support and inspire as each of you has supported me a great deal.
There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground; there are a thousand ways to go home again.
P.S. If you would like support to move to your year of meaning in 2021, please join me on January 9th on Zoom for my workshop “Your Gift Led Life” at Keen Yoga. Click here for the details.
P.P.S If you believe in your success as a Yoga teacher or wellness coach but have not found the success tools, please reach out to me.