What will you pay attention to today?
~Karen Maezen Miller, Hand Wash Cold
If you hang around Lila Yoga much you’re bound to hear one of two things, parents talking about parenting (past or present), and/or gardeners talking about gardening. Not that all Lila students are gardeners or parents, but most of us have something or someone in our lives that we take care of. I love listening to these conversations because in them I hear a commitment to nourishing something, to offer it attention and help it grow well and strong.
In Maezen Miller’s book Hand Wash Cold she talks about gardening, parenting and being in relationships, and offers the metaphor of the sun as inspiration. The sun she says, “endures, it does not demand or impose, it does not withhold or revoke, it simply shows up… the sun attends the earth and everything in it.”
Not a gardener myself, although with aspirations to be someday, I imagine the nature of gardening is similar to the nature of the sun. Growing a beautiful and thriving garden means showing up, being present, and giving attention where it is needed.
For me, the parent I try to be is similar in nature, and boy oh boy are there ample opportunities to challenge me in this commitment. Perhaps you can relate, as a parent or caregiver, partner or friend.
As a mom, moments can arise daily when turning my back seems the easiest response. The impulse to just stop the tantrum, control the situation, and move on can almost overtake me. But in Miller’s offering I hear another invitation. Instead, I could (and try when the self awareness is there) to offer attention to my tantruming toddler rather than turn my back. I try, sometimes with every ounce of self control I can muster to simply “show up” for him rather that try to fix or change or redirect him. And sometimes, not always, but often, this act of offering attention can have almost miraculous results. If he’s escalating into full tantrum and I simply stop everything, kneel down, reach out my arms and offer to hold him, often his fight will melt away and what opens up is a precious moment of ease and peace between us.
These are moments when it is clear to me that “attention is the most concrete expression of love.” And then the moment’s gone and we’re on the the next thing!
But seriously, what if we could show up for ourselves in the same way? What if we could treat our own inner obstacles, challenges, griefs and fears like we would a child that simply needs attention or a little seedling needing some sunlight and water. What if we could give ourselves this gentle and enduring attention?
Yoga and meditation offer the perfect place to cultivate this practice. On our yoga mat or meditation cushion we can slow down long enough to see and hear what is asking for attention within ourselves. Perhaps it’s an achy shoulder or a feeling of irritation, perhaps it’s fatigue or even excitement! Whatever it is yoga and meditation invite us to meet ourselves with love. And just like the well tended garden blossoming in full color and life, or the tantruming toddler soothed by a loving embrace our inner self can be comforted by simply showing up and offering kind and patient attention.
This month we invite you to give your yoga practice and yourself some kind attention. Knowing that whatever receives attention thrives what would it be like to practice one more time each week? What about two more times a week?
Here are some great opportunities to make that commitment easy and fun! Join us for our new Rise and Shine Early Morning Immersion through the month of June, 6/4-6/29. Enjoy a little competitive fun – participate in our 40 Day Challenge that starts July 1st! Another great opportunity to deepen your practice – join Sonia for her Viniyoga Extended Practice on 6/24. Finally, we have one more Family Yoga with Nicole for the summer this weekend June 3rd.
What will you pay attention to today?
Kelly Valenzuela and Lila Yoga