Yogi Assignment: Sukha, Ease

There is not a direct line to growth. It’s a curvy, twisted path through the heart. You might not think you can get any stronger, you might think you’re all alone, you might feel like you’re about to collapse but then you find it, the strength that was always there. Faith and hope lift you up. New friends appear where old wounds are still healing. The winding road is the spiritual path, the way towards the deepest truth of life.

Practicing yoga doesn’t give you all the answers. Sometimes the practice gives you all the right questions. Being a warrior isn’t always about picking a fight. Sometimes it’s about making peace.

This last week has been an emotional crash course through old wounds and new heartbreak. My sweet kitty Miss Cleo, short for Cleopatra, staggered into our kitchen after being gone for a few days (she’s an outside cat and sometimes disappears but usually always returns). This time she was barely standing, refusing food and water and hardly able to meow. We scooped her up and brought her to the cat hospital. After a week do tests and treatment we got the worst news—terminal cancer, an aggressive lymphoma, bleeding in the abdomen and advanced liver failure. We brought her home to shower her with love, but she only last a few days. This weekend, while I was away teaching in Houston, my husband made the call to put her down.

When he brought her in to the vet they said she was in pain, her liver failing and even more blood accumulating in her abdomen. She couldn’t even eek out a sad meow, her big green eyes still full of love but burdened from pain. Tim is a hero. He made the choice I couldn’t have. He spent the day caring for our little fur baby and when the time came for her cross over he was with al the way until her last breath. Now she’s under our mango tree and her soul will be with us always. It breaks my heart that I wasn’t there in those last moments. We thought about waiting until Monday so I could be there but every moment of her last hours was agony. It would have been selfish and unfair to wait just BC I wanted one more cuddle. Or at least that’s how I see it.

I didn’t think I had it my heart to face one more dive into heartbreak. And maybe I don’t. Maybe that’s why this all happened when I was away. After my father passed and my leg got burned I’ve struggled to come up for emotional air. Just as I was finding a little space to breathe again Miss Cleo showed up sick. And now she’s gone. All the tears I’ve cried over the last few months could fill a lifetime of sadness.

Everyone says this will all make me stronger. And I know it will. But sometimes I think I’m strong enough and I’m ready for things to be nice and easy for a little bit. Here’s what I know:

Life is short and precious. It goes by in a flash, so quickly so you could almost miss it. Every human being has infinite capacity for love. It’s up to you to live your life fully and make it mean something. This is the real challenge.

This week’s Yogi Assignment is Sukha, the Sanskrit word for Ease. If you’re stressing out about the small details and worrying about how everything is going to work out you may miss the simple beauty that surrounds you. If you’re able to shift your mind to ease and flow, then you’ll walk through even the most difficult moments of your life with grace. Take the lesson of Sukha into the hardest poses of your practice. Ask yourself how you can find a space of peace even amidst great challenge. Whether that means accepting that your hips aren’t open yet and learning to love them anyway, or it means softening your practice instead of pushing too hard, move yourself into ease and flow.

Self-soothing is a skill that is often hard to learn. When life feels overwhelming you need tools to calm your nervous system. Whether it’s getting a massage, sprinkling a bit of lavender oil, going for a walk, practicing yoga or spending time in prayer, finding moments of ease and flow in your life gives you an emotional safe space to heal. You’re not avoiding the pain by self-soothing, you’re giving yourself the foundation to heal.

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