I’m just about to complete month three of training in my 200-hour yoga teacher training. We’re learning poses (asana), but so much more. We’re learning how to live yoga. Everyone I spoke to before I started said it would change my life, and it’s already changing the way I look at life. Right now, we’re learning about the Yamas, or the restraints. They aren’t rules, they are a practice. It’s meant for you to observe how this practice affects your well-being. The first yama is Ahimsa, or non-harming, and the second is Satya, or truthfulness. (That’s as far as we’ve gotten so far). Are your thoughts and actions non-harming? For yourself? For others? Are they truthful? Are you being honest with yourself? With others? How far does honesty go before it becomes harmful? Can you recognize that your truth is not always another’s truth? We’re also learning about the three gunas, the three types of energy, and using these qualities to classify instead of emotions like anger, sadness, etc. The three gunas are Rajas (restless energy), Tamas (dull, stagnant energy) and Satva (lightness of being, the state of pure content, bliss). Studying these things and reading the books we’ve been reading is making me more observant about my life and the things around me. When I feel satva I really notice it, maybe because now I have a name for it. It’s happiness, yeah, but it’s more than that. It’s just pure bliss when you feel it. I’m noticing my thoughts and actions more. I’m classifying them, and I’m deciding which ones I like and which ones I don’t.
I write all this as background for the story of what I did tonight and how it made me feel. After a short coat drive, my co-workers and I handed out coats, dinners and homemade cookies to those less fortunate in the park downtown tonight. We were lucky that it wasn’t very cold (only about 60 degrees or so), but it was raining pretty hard. We still had a lot of people come, and we had a line forming well before the start time we’d announced. We had plenty of coats, but most of the men wanted or needed XL and bigger, so there weren’t enough to go around. We had plenty of soup and homemade cookies, but the sandwiches went fast, and not everyone got one. But, I think we made a lot of people happy. I had grabbed a box of 80 garbage bags when I left the office, and people took those to keep their stuff and themselves dry. I spoke to a lot of really nice people. There were a few very nice gentlemen who helped us setup and suggested we have people draw numbers for the coats, which turned out to be a lifesaver for organization! I met one guy who said my dimples brightened his day. I told him that him saying that brightened mine. I met a few women, at least one of which was there with her husband. I assume that not everyone was homeless, but I don’t know. I did hear several talking about local shelters or soup kitchens, and a couple mentioning they didn’t have anywhere dry to sleep that night. One of the men who helped us set up boasted about a job he could get, in construction, that he was highly qualified for and paid $12 an hour, but he couldn’t get the job because he didn’t have a car to get there. I met another guy who told me about his kidney infection, and then apologized for telling me too much. Little did he know I know all about those too, and that I’m pretty good at sharing too much info myself. The guy who struck me the most was a nice man with two little girls. The girls were waiting at the library, staying dry and warm. He got two of the few children’s coats we collected. I loaded him up with extra muffins and cookies. They’re three and five years old he said. We joked about how hard it is to raise a child, but he said it brings him such joy. I teased and asked, so, do you love having two, should I have another one? And he said absolutely! And went on about what great friends his girls are. And how they’ll always be there for each other. And then he was off to deliver the cookies. We had run out of sandwiches, so he said that would be their dinner that night. I gave him a few extra bags of cookies. I loved handing out the cookies. I got to smile at and say hi to every single person there. Satva, that’s it for me!
I drove home soaked to the bone and muddy as anything, but feeling great about all the good we did tonight. I thought about how I want to take every Wednesday and make PB&J sandwiches on my lunch break, and stay late every Wednesday to pass out sandwiches and chat with people. I thought, how can I make this happen? If this isn’t realistic, what is? I have some thinking to do about that.
As soon I was home I started just seeing everything around me, and being so thankful for all of it. I could name so much I am thankful for. I thought about the people who said they didn’t know where they were going to sleep tonight, and I thought about how helpless I felt when the power was out here and our house was getting so cold, and how I didn’t know where we would sleep so that my baby could be warm. Wow, nothing compared to what that father must feel everyday. I don’t know that they are homeless, but they sure do have much different worries than I do. Even sitting here now, looking around my living room, I have all these things. I’m thankful that my family and I can provide these things to my daughter. I’m thankful that I can bathe her in a warm bathtub whenever I want. I can dress her in fresh pajamas. I can tuck her in at night with a blanket made by her great great aunt, in her crib, in her own room, under our own roof with walls and heat, a house that’s nice and warm and cozy. I worry about how much she eats, and what she eats, but not because I can’t provide her enough to eat. I think about all the little things that make me feel satvic (blissful): a warm cup of tea, listening to music and singing with my daughter, rocking in the rocking chair with her at bedtime, pulling my down comforter up over myself at night, stretching my legs out and sinking in to my mattress as I fall asleep. I think of how the people I met tonight don’t get the chance to feel this satva from these things. I’m sure joy comes to them in other things, at least I hope so.
I’ll go to work tomorrow, because I have a car that can take me there. I’ll bring home a paycheck, and even if I didn’t have my job for some reason, I have places we could go, people who would help us. I’m happy to help these people, even if it’s only one warm meal, or one warm coat. And I’m thankful I got to spend an evening with them. I’m thankful for my stuff, but even more thankful for the love in my life. I’m so lucky, I’m so thankful. That’s bliss to me.