Day 19: Gifts From the Heart

 

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It has been two weeks since the last Bend It entry and boy, does it feel good to be back in my right brain. The world has had its emotional twists and turns and NPR is coaching us on Thanksgiving table-side manners in a divisive political season. Food fight, anyone? Or, how about a heart-to-heart?

My favorite fearless monk, Tom Kelly kickstarted this weekend’s yoga classes with a mediation and asana practice that had us chanting love songs and moving in silly ways with big smiles. After 25 years of service to the Self Realization Fellowship, his path is all heart and his teachings are all about love. It’s no wonder that every time we practice with him, I am transported back to infancy-the toddler years in particular. Do you ever notice how toddlers only speak, act and express from the heart? They haven’t learned reasoning yet and so, know only one language: heart talk.

This got me to thinking about a recent conversation with a friend about our mothers. We both related on the fact that as they have aged, our mothers have become increasingly depressed and closed off from the world. It’s a far cry from the moms we remember having as guardians throughout childhood; but, to be fair, we ourselves have grown up and carry a different perspective of them, as well as a new appreciation for self-change through the passage of time. Despite all this, one thing remains noticeable: life has taken some of their spirit away.

It got me to reflecting on an underused exercise: what if we pictured our moms as little girls? What would they look like then and could we find more compassion for them under these conditions? Even better, what if, as aged women, they could see themselves as those wondrous, pure children with hearts open to the sky twirling around in the fields of childhood? Would they too have more love and forgiveness for their playful, curious souls no matter the circumstances?

I like to relate it to Santa Claus. He stops by once a year with a bag full of goodies and coal. He comes prepared with two types of rewards for little girls’ and boys’ behavior: presents and punishments. Instead of seeing life’s challenges and painful moments as lumps of coal in that bag, what if they became presents, as if the alchemists sprinkled a magic powder over the black, hardened balls of earth and converted them into magical gemstones of bright colors that when looked at brought much joy and reflection? It is how we receive the lessons of life, no matter how hard or painful, that allows us to either make lemons or lemonade. We are the alchemists and we create our own gifts.

There is no way to see beauty when your heart is drowning in darkness; until it can see its own light through the muck, it will remain closed off and full of pain. So smile, put on Sesame Street and have a love affair with your heart. Most importantly, love yourself as a child with unconditional compassion and she will always love you back.

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