It was the first yoga class of 2015 and my “intention” that I chose for my practice that day was “love, not fear.” Misty, one of the instructors at the yoga studio, had said that phrase a few weeks before and I grabbed those three words like a hungry child grabs a cookie. I challenged myself to live a new way.
I have been coaching myself with that phrase for the past couple of weeks and it has propelled me to not rush or dread what I needed to get done. It has revealed to me how often I do things without thinking and with a bit of annoyance. The phrase also has begun to unlock the awareness of how often I do things that I don’t need to keep doing.
It is the New Year and time to set a new way. Last year I resolved to be kinder to myself and to others. And I am kinder than I used to be, but the journey is more like the tortoise and the hare. New ways of kindness are slow and the journey takes time, actually, a lifetime. The phrase, ‘love not fear’ has allowed a new awareness of what my body is doing in the moment. Am I dreading? Am I resenting? Am I afraid? Am I grateful? Am I honored to be of service? Am I fully present with whomever I am with?
Asana is a Sanskrit word which means “sitting down”. It originally meant a sitting position. In the practice of Yoga it denoted the art of sitting still, but later was applied to any posture useful for restoring and maintaining a practitioner’s well-being and improving the body’s flexibility and vitality.
A good yoga teacher explains the importance of taking what you learn “off the mat”. I have been practicing sitting and meditating and breathing to quiet my mind. In the rush of living it has become a safe haven of calming balm. In that act of slowing, I have felt the love and peace of God. He restores and renews my mind and body.
In Jeremiah 28:9 it says, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I can quiet my pounding heart and breathe in a manner consistent with His desire to prosper and not harm. It is not enough merely to believe, I am coming to understand my body is meant to participate in grace.
Our pastor today challenged us to spend time reading scripture and then twenty minutes in a dark closet listening to what Jesus is saying to us. He said that the first time you do this it will seem like three hours. And then he said, if you keep at it, in thirty days it will become the best part of your day.
As I look forward to what will come to pass in 2015 I know without question the older I become that more loss and struggle is ahead. I also know fear hastens the end and diminishes what joys are to be found in each passing day. As much as I want to make specific goals and resolutions for the New Year, I have taken on only one commitment: ‘love, not fear’. Three words. One intention. I will start tomorrow morning and wait to hear in the quiet, the voice of love.
Becky Allender lives on Bainbridge Island with her loving, wild husband of 36 years. A mother and grandmother, she is quite fond of sunshine, yoga, Hawaiian quilting and creating 17th Century reproduction samplers. A community of praying women, loving Jesus, and the art of gratitude fill her life with goodness. She wonders what she got herself into with Red Tent Living!