Personal Experience

Another “Burning Share”: YogaFit Atlanta Mind-Body Fitness Conference 2012

First of all, a very happy Thanksgiving Day to all of you! I hope you are having a wonderful time with family and friends. The hubby and I are having a quiet holiday this year. It’s nice, actually. It gives us time to reflect upon the good things we have received this year, the bountiful harvest (not necessarily referring to food), and our upcoming anniversary. We’re turning 8 this year! It’s been a wonderful journey thus far!

Speaking of reflection, I spent the Nov. 8-11 in Atlanta continuing my YogaFit 200-hour program. This time, I took Level 2, Pre-Natal, and Seniors. It was a great time. I had the most awesome Level 2/Seniors trainer, whom I hope to stay in touch with from time to time. I felt like I connected to her on a lot of levels, from our sweet teeth to our love of Dr. Larkin’s Growing the Positive Mind to having ties to the military.

What started out as a pure learning experience quickly became introspective for me. First off, I got to meet people who had struggled harder than I have had to struggle. I enjoyed their company. I listened to their stories, and practiced learning the importance of listening versus talking with a ready answer (which isn’t listening). I obtained an unexpected roommate out of the experience. She was awesome! And I need to email her…

What caused me to become more introspective was a Chakra yoga class I took one morning. (YogaFit offers morning classes to warm up the body and mind in preparation for the day’s activities; they are quite useful in addition to being beneficial.) I had a male instructor (for the first time ever) and he took us through all 7 chakras in an hour’s time. It was the most beautiful class I’d ever taken for the following reason.

Linked to the Tumblr blog of the beautiful young lady who made this exquisite creation. Yes, hun, I agree. It could be worse, so we should smile more!

The anahata chakra, the heart chakra, resides in the heart’s center. During our exercises for this, he told the story of the boy with a perfect heart, who went around showing others his perfect heart. It was without blemish. On his travels, he came across an old man who had a patchwork heart. His curiosity was aroused, and he asked the old man why he had allowed his heart to become imperfect. The old man replied that it was because he’d chosen to share a piece of his heart with others, no matter if they had hurt him or loved him or been friends or enemies with him.

At this point, my eyes prickled with tears and I had no idea why. The story just resonated within me in a powerful but mysterious way. I was sitting there in Crescent Moon pose wondering to myself as to why, and made an effort not to let the tears fall. We moved into our vinyasa flow and I got past it, and the instructor finished the story.

In the end, the boy with the perfect heart offered a piece of his own heart to the old man, saying, “Thank you.” He made the decision that withholding himself from the rest of the world did not help the world. Indeed, such behavior possibly made the world a worse place. The old man received it and gave a piece of his patchwork heart back with gratitude.

What I learned was not poses or breathing or the 8 branches of yoga or the power of positive thinking. Those are all good things. Great things, in fact, but the greatest of the lessons I learned this time was that life is about living. It’s about sharing. It doesn’t matter if or when we run across someone who treats us well, or badly. We will have joyful and painful experiences, ups and downs. We will make friends and lose friends, for every person is in our lives for a time and a season.

I had a moment at the beginning of the Level 2 class, where we were asked what we disliked most about ourselves. Honestly, I hate being vulnerable, yet what I learned is that vulnerability is vital to living well. For when we are vulnerable, we are receptive. We are more willing to listen, to understand another’s point of view even if we don’t agree with them, to value that person despite their differing arguments and opinions and beliefs and hopes, etc.

There are a set of right and wrong things to do in this life, I believe, and I think that one of the wrong things for us to do with withhold ourselves from contributing to this wonderful, frightening, terrible, rewarding thing called life. There is only one you. No one can ever replace the lessons you bring to life.

At the very end, after all the training was done, I had a bit of a meltdown. I was talking to my Level 2/Seniors trainer when suddenly it just exploded. I felt incredibly stupid crying and not knowing why, but I had this powerful need to have someone available if I ever needed to talk or bounce ideas off of, etc. A mentor, so to speak. It took me hours to figure out what had sparked the explosion: The story of the patchwork heart.

There are times when I find myself very alone in the place where I am living. I feel like I’m speaking a different language. People smile and nod, but the cynicism never recedes from the light in their eyes. They’d like to believe you but they don’t. They’re too engrained in focusing on the negatives in their lives–what they are doing without or how they don’t match up to an image or expectation of perfection–to see what good things they already have.

The power of positive thinking doesn’t seek to erase negative thinking; rather, it seeks to transform our thoughts into the positive, beneficial, healthy means by which we accomplish tasks and, more importantly, find gratitude, happiness, peace, and love. Just as there is no perfect posture in yoga, there is no perfect human being. I think that when we acknowledge our imperfections, we find the freedom to grow into better people.

I encourage you to read Growing the Positive Mind. I encourage you to embrace the unexpected explosions that rock your life. They are our lessons. They guide us on this journey called life. They make up our patchwork hearts, and who knows whom we have touched by sharing a piece of ourselves? Usually, only the person whom we have touched by sharing.


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