Being happy where you are
by Jill Sockman
I’m spending a little time in Florida this week to celebrate my mom’s birthday. I’ve been coming here since I was a little girl and every time I’m here I’m reminded there are memories stored in every nook and cranny; ghosts and treasures are tucked away around every corner.
Days are lazy, and always begin with a walk along the Gulf of Mexico. I’ve been walking this stretch of perfect white sand pretty much my whole life. What I love about it is that while it’s always the same place, the beach is different every day. Some days the water is crystal clear and still as a lake. Other days it’s choppy and cloudy with waves like the ocean. Each day the sea brings a different gift to the shore: a certain kind of shell in proliferation, a red seaweed, starfish, tiny minnows, sand dollars. I don’t know what causes it, but it’s always been this way.
Not too long ago an article came across my screen titled, “People Who Live at the Beach are Happier” or some such thing. I didn’t bother to read it, because I think we have reached a point where we can prove anything with a study, and as a skeptic, I generally believe it is mostly just bunk. However, as I completed yet another ritual morning, walking through perfect white sand, gentle clear blue water lapping at my feet; alone, but in the company of ibis, pelicans, sandpipers and osprey, dolphins entertaining us a few feet offshore; it made me wonder if maybe there was something to this idea after all.
Since I will not be moving to this little paradise in the foreseeable future, and do not want to be among those who are apparently Less Happy Because We Don’t Live at the Beach, what to do? I’ve got a couple of ideas I want to try when I get home:
- A slower pace. Nothing is rushed here. There’s no need. How about packing that one up and taking it home?
- Nature. I know this. We all know this. We feel better when we spend less time inside and more time outside. Let’s do that.
- More play and less work. I have to earn a living and so do you. But I know I spend a lot of time spinning unproductively, not actually working, but pretending to work. Thinking about work. Staring blankly at the blue screen, wasting precious moments of life. Let’s NOT do that.
I hope you have a restful, fun, slow-paced holiday weekend. I hope you’ll spend some time outside. I hope you’ll work less and play more. And maybe we can all be a little Happier Right Where We Are.
The Beauty of Impermanence
by Jill Sockman
In classes lately, I’ve been talking about impermanence. We get it in theory- everything is always changing, we are always moving in one direction or another, nothing is static. But how do we really deal with it in practical terms, in real life? And how can we use our on-the-mat practice to practice dealing?
Like so many things, begin with a pause. To tune in we must stop everything else but present moment awareness. Stop moving, planning, thinking, doing, comparing, complaining, explaining, excusing, and just feel. What is the current State of the Union that is you? Put aside the history and the story, the conversation and inner dialogue and just feel what is happening in your body on a sensory level- physical and emotional. How much can you feel? And can you feel without judging?
Whether delighting in the most sublime tart sweetness of warm cherry pie, the slow burn of muscles working to hold you steady in a difficult yoga posture, or the heavy ache of grief and heartbreak, can you fully be with what is? Take one step away from the part of you that wants to get on the podium and offer an extended monologue about it, and just feel. Make a little space between the sensation and the you that is experiencing the sensation. Because the watching, witnessing you is the changeless, eternal presence that can abide the impermanence of this life.
Everything you are experiencing in this moment, can you lap it up, soak it in, feel it utterly and completely as an essential part of you and of your life? Is it amazing, blissful? Is it impossible, overwhelming? Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter. Because in the scheme of time and life, it is just a moment, and will pass as surely as all the ones before it. The more we can align with the nature of life as change the more precious it all becomes. Fleeting moments, run together, to make a life.