An Unexpected Lesson

Recently my 92 year old father passed away. You might be thinking, that is sad… but what does that have to do with yoga? To my surprise, mourning has been an acute yogic experience.

In the days surrounding my father’s death, I feel a heightened sense of personal presence. It’s like the volume on all my senses are turned up. It is hard to think about the future as I am fiercely in the present. I find myself looking into people’s eyes more intently, listening more carefully, concentrating completely on what I am doing, and admiring the sky at sunset. It is the kind of presence that I have only felt before in very intense situations – confronting something scary or seeing my children for the first time. I don’t think it is unique to me, as I recall once reading a yoga blog about a guy who only felt completely present when standing on the very edge of a cliff.

Living out of state for two weeks, removed from all my regular responsibility, has facilitated this experience. I have not been a mom, a wife, a dog owner, an employee, or PTA President. I have not returned an email, a phone call, or paid a bill. The things that used to worry and irk me, I am either not confronted with or I have not let them seep into my sacred space. I have just been a grieving daughter.  However, I know for certain that this heightened sense of presence will dissipate as I return to my life.  

I am not suggesting that one needs to experience a life-changing situation to be present. Nor am I suggesting that you need to move to a remote island or go off the grid to be truly present. However, cathartic situations may force you into that space temporarily. In my opinion, one reason to study yoga is to learn to be present in the ordinary moments. In fact, I will take it a step further, it is to teach us that there are no ordinary moments, each and every moment should be revered.

The way I see it, one tragedy of death is that we didn’t truly enjoy or appreciate the deceased when they were alive. We think, there is time to do this or say that.  When in truth there is only here and now. Maybe a key take away is to try and remember that.


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