I was reminded in class this week on the words of Swami Devanand. Like a seed, those wise words have stayed and grown with my heart. Almost 20 years later, I am reminded beyond the words, but through the energy and intent, that all we need to do is remember and never forget Gratitude and Love.
Yoga has affected so many aspects of my life. I look back and realize the beautiful experiences it has brought to me, so undeservingly. I have traveled many places, met many saintly people, practiced spiritual retreats, shed many years of joy, and celebrated spiritual friendships. Last week, I was reminded of one of my first retreats with Swami Guru Devanand in the heart of the island of Dominican Republic. I traveled to the mountains, within the heart of the island. The retreat was in one of the most magnificent locations, with so much green, so many sounds, such breath taking views. Furthermore, it also was very rustic lodging, no solid food, lemonades with honey, showers at 3:30am to be ready for our 10 hours of daily meditation. Seven days to simply be with oneself, in complete silence, with no books or distractions, except being with oneself.
I do remember struggling through the meditations, my knees reminding me constantly their need of attention, and my mind writing the most decadent cooking book. I cannot say it was easy. I cannot say it was pleasurable. I do remember clearly a midmorning meditation when the skies broke loose. The rain poured over the tin roof in the designated meditation hall. My most intricate pizza recipe was interrupted, and I had to listen. For the first time I had to pay attention, away from my thoughts and my struggle to maintain the presence of my mantra. In that moment I was awoken by the incredible force of nature. God had to remind me to pay attention. He wanted me present in the sounds and the silence, to the struggle and to the embrace, the hunger and the fulfillment, to the void and the love. I was able to surrender and listen to my heart.
I step onto my mat every day, and I am reminded of the sacredness of every breath, of every movement, of my surrendering mind (many times not so much!). I am even more humbled and awed at the yoga center we share. This center goes beyond individuals. This center instructs and loves me at the same time. I am especially touched to see the sincerity of the 1 (or 28 students) in class. I feel all the yogis around the world that had come through and have left their heart and vibrant energy with us. Their experiences live in it, and so their opened hearts; the loving intent of so many is still present. I am grateful to all of you. I am grateful to God for talking through the rain.