My recent shopping trip took me on an unexpected turn toward the existential.
It’s not every day one sees luck and faith available for purchase — and with faith on clearance.
The iphone in my pocket begged to take a picture. I would have loved sending it to Instagram (or Facebook or Twitter). And the right hashtag (#Targetfunny or #faithluckonsale) to underscore the experience.
But there were errands to run, and I thought maybe I’d circle back to the idea later on.
And just like any yoga nerd, I felt it lingering in the back of my mind.
Why couldn’t I just be contented with having a good laugh about it with my husband?
Because I have to create meaning out of the mundane, and often where this is none. That’s just how I roll.
Still, who wouldn’t be captivated?
I found the holy grail of a happy life – in the aisles of the East Memphis Target!
Clearly some sales executive higher-up deemed luck to be a little more valuable than faith. The powers-that-be slashed a few prices — and voila — the value of faith declined by 50%.
I knew the Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras had something to say about this and wondered if he’d also thrown in any ideas about luck.
So I looked it up.
I found some talk of faith. And very little on luck.
The word “faith” can be a loaded word for many. It can be seen as something religious or spiritual or even out-dated. It brings up early childhood experiences in incense-filled cathedrals and Jesus’ “faith of a mustard seed” speech.
Substituting the word “trust” has been a good alternative for me.
Trust can be something like a seed that develops little by little. BKS Iyengar says that trust comes with experience. He describes faith as “felt trust” and says that it is instinctive. And then develops with effort and reflecting on one’s own experience.
There have been times when I’ve found it hard to have trust or faith — even in my yoga practice.
But I still do it. (Yes, and sometimes even just think about doing it).
I see results. I understand faith through my experience. Over time, I am able to believe that yoga can be of help. And that makes faith worth something to me.
As for luck, I’ve seen a lot of it. I’ve been at the right place at just the right time too often to doubt my good luck.
Luck can provide valuable resources. But I’ve found that, unlike faith or trust, there are very few actions I can take to create more luck.
Except maybe shop at Target, and be willing to pay full price.
The Beatles swept the world by storm 50 years ago when they appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. In their first set, they played “All My Loving” and “She Loves You,” and Paul sang “‘Til There Was You.”
Ed Sullivan read a telegram on the air from Elvis Presley congratulating them on their American debut.
Six years later, they recorded a new song written by Paul McCartney, “Let It Be.”
This song holds deep meaning for me. It seems to come into my consciousness at times when I need comforting. It’s helped me as I’ve come to terms with pain in my life and learned to let it go.
In his book Light on Life, Mr. Iyengar interprets Isvara Pranidhana as “Surrender; letting it be whatever it is.”
In yoga, this is considered an active practice like Tapas (Applying your self) and Svadhyaya (Investigating your own experience).
I’ve always struggled with the concept of letting go. Holding on tightly seems to come more naturally to me. I became aware of my need to let go a long time before I was capable of actually doing it.
At that time I thought to myself, “I can’t let go. But I am willing to be willing to let go.”
That was the best I could do. Sometimes it still is.
Here are some ideas you might use if you are considering letting things be:
Visualize something that represents the concept of letting go. Conjure up your own image in your mind that feels like surrender or letting go to you. Sometimes I visualize water flowing freely in a river, a sailboat floating on the water, or a blue sky with fluffy clouds. This works for me. Experiment to find your own image that facilitates the thought of surrender. If I get stuck, sometimes I look online for images or find something in a magazine or book.
Focus on your exhalation. When you breathe out, you are literally letting go of your breath. And you don’t even have to try and do it. Your body has an intelligence all its own that makes this happen! Close your eyes and watch your exhalation just happen. With each out-breath, let go of your breath (and anything else) you no longer need.
Clean out a drawer or pocket. This is a practical step for the pragmatic people out there. If imagery feels a little woo-woo to you, then this is something you can do. Find a place where there is too much clutter, and clean it out.
Cleaning out my purse helps me clean out my mind. If I’m not paying attention, my bag becomes a bottomless pit of receipts, old Starbucks sugar packages, pennies, bobby pins, used tissues, yikes!
If I’m in a dither over something that I can’t control or fix or change, sometimes the best I can do is organize a small area of my life like my pocketbook or wallet. There is something about being able to affect change on a physical level. You can see a before & after, and realize that you have power to create change, however small. So maybe you can’t whip every problem into shape, but there are things you can do to shift your experience.
It is important to know that there is no obstacle, emotion or inner state that is beyond the influence of “letting it be whatever it is.” Whether you are performing a straightforward job like cleaning your house or facing the daunting task of a tough conversation, you can listen to your true intuition and connect to your higher self.
It may not be comfortable or perfect. In fact, it probably won’t be either of these things.
But, Iyengar says that when one practices Isvara Pranidhana (letting it be whatever it is) that “grace pours down upon [him] like a torrential rain.”
And I vote for grace every time.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
When I took class with her a few years ago in Atlanta, I found Kquvien Deweese to be an inspiring and refreshing voice in Iyengar Yoga. And of course I wanted to share that with my Memphis peeps!
It’s risky to sign up for a yoga workshop. You might not even know the teacher, but you your friend tells you she/he is awesome or inspiring. So you commit to go.
There’s trust involved. You set aside hours of your precious weekend to focus on you and your yoga. To learn something new about yourself or to challenge yourself physically.
I appreciate all who participated in the weekend with Kquvien. You showed up and brought with you your whole selves – with an open mind and a willingness to see and be seen.
And if you didn’t make it this time, no worries. Kquvien will be back next year!
Plus, your friends who attended present here some highlights from their experience.
“I appreciated Kquvien’s teaching because she started with the toes, moved to the feet, worked on the ankles and on up until we had awakened every bone, muscle and joint in our bodies. She helped us build on our understanding of the asanas. It begins with the foundation” – Elaine
“Kquvien exuded such confidence in our ability to do what she asked that it enabled me to start a pose with more confidence in myself to execute her instructions. I loved the workshop. Kquvien is an excellent teacher.”
“When leaving the studio she didn’t just say goodbye. She said something like…’Good luck out there in the real world.’ Not sure that was it verbatim, but she said it on Saturday and again on Sunday. It reminded me that yoga is not just about what you do in the studio or on your mat, but how you apply the knowledge in the real world.”
“Learning the difference between the pain of evolution and the pain of destruction. In life, in yoga, in relationships, in work…Knowing that growing muscle in any way takes pains….but it’s also important to know when the pains you’re feeling aren’t growing muscle so smart.”
“I think Q was thoughtful, precise, humorous and her knowledge of sutras was inspiring. I liked the way she commandeered the class keeping everybody engaged. There were a couple of students who had never done yoga before and she managed to keep them engaged while focusing on the teaching. She is a good teacher. I would like to take her workshop again.”
“I found Kquvien’s translation of one of the yoga sutras particularly meaningful. The scholarly translation: ‘Long, uninterrupted, alert practice is the firm foundation for restraining the fluctuations of the mind.’ Kquvien’s translation: ‘This sh*t takes time!‘”
“Very often, the yoga sessions are very serious business and trying to get the poses right is challenging! I can still hear Kquvien say: ‘And now smile!‘ I believe this is the first time I have heard this instruction and it certainly contributed to the 2:30 minutes flying by!”
“I had been so proud of my knee lift – it was the first, maybe only, foundational move I had mastered completely. Or so I believed until I met Kquvien. I now know that I hyper-extend, that my lift came from pushing back not pulling up. I spent the rest of the workshop in deep communal thought with my knees, trying to engage with them from a new position – that level of targeted body awareness is a wonderful feeling!”
“I loved her concept about the pain of evolution vs the pain of destruction. And how she incorporates the sutras into the asana practice. Also, it struck me when she said to stick with the yamas and niyamas and not get greedy to do the pose. Also, her explanation of samadhi – absorption”
“Prior to the workshop with Kquvien, I have felt SUPER limited with vrksasana – and I did have the “oh no” reaction when she said this was the next pose we would be doing. The way she broke it down little by little, reinforcing the instructions with each progression- facilitated my cognitive and physical understanding of this pose and I was really pleased with my success in getting into and sustaining the pose! YAY!!!”
“Kquvien, I thought it was so interesting that you worked on a small number of poses in order to perfect each pose. You managed to work with each student, even in a large class I liked your sense of humor, and was impressed with your memory for names. I hope you will return to Memphis.”
“I’ve been fortunate to study with Kquvien for several years, but one thing I learned was about the use of breath in asana. In particular, the use of an ujjayii breath to lift the foot higher into the perineum in vrkasana. Kquvien also used a metaphor of water under a rocky overhang to describe the breath going under the ribs in pranayama – I found that very illuminating.”