Last week I had the chance to walk around my home neighborhood - Greenwich Village. As I strolled down the cobblestone streets contemplation passed through my mind of what all of these newly opened shops that keep appearing so quickly represent in life. There is Coach, where an antique store was; Magnolia, where the charming bird store used to be; Le Pain Quotidian, where my favorite Hunan Spring used to be. So much has changed from the days of the quaint, personal and familiar stores lined the neighborhood streets to the times of luxury chain stores able to afford the rent occupying the precious tree-lined streets Sometimes change feels right, or good, other times, it is daunting and confusing as to how it is beneficial to us or society. Most impressionable is when we leave behind something, yet cling to the memory of what the objects and activities represented in life. When we finally return to that person, place or thing, it is occasionally shocking to witness how different things are.
Facebook is a classic example these days! How many old friends have you found (or found you) in utter surprise of how they look today or what they are doing with their lives now? Sometimes it is predictable, other times it is beyond our greatest imagination. So, what do we do when we face overwhelming change or nostalgia - whether it is the season, the buildings on your street, your haircut, your friends the fashion of the moment, your job, your relationship or your body? Yoga reminds us that although everything can and WILL fluctuate around us, it is what we hold inside of us, that connects the universe is constant. We have peace within ourselves.
Have you ever seen the Sex & the City (yes, I watch it) where Charlotte's acupuncturist reminds her that the city will never calm down enough for her to find peace in his office, so she will just have to find peace within herself? Finding peace within is not easy, especially for us NYers who, as my Sri Lankan friend reminds me, RUN not walk quickly around the city and in life. There is hope! We can find peace from within. Especially when we nurture the love for ourselves, love for others, or love for the greater existence that connects us all together. When we let go of any attachment or expectations of an outcome of where/what the change leads to, then we find improved fulfillment in whatever the present state is and recognize the constant strength and familiarity that we have within ourselves.
Along my walk in the Village, before I knew it, I found myself standing at the open garden gates to my very own grade school on Hudson Street. I spent ten wonderful years at St. Luke's in the Fields, another place that I know has also changed a lot. Yet, walking into the garden, I immediately felt familiarity amd comfort in the fragrance of flowers drifting through a warm summer breeze. I was reminded that memories and happiness as a child and throughout life will always be there whether the school or any place is there or not. Just as my experiences and feelings today do not depend on anything happening externally, but rather are influenced by how everything is understood from within the self.
The author and poet Kalidasa once wrote: "...for yesterday is but a dream;and tomorrow is only a vision; but today, well lived, makes every yesterdaya dream of happiness,and every tomorrow a vision of hope.Look well, therefore, to this day!" Kalidasa is on to something! Regardless of the change around us, it is how we absorb the past, the present and the future that matters.
PROCESSING CHANGE WITH MEDITATION:Meditation is a wonderful way to allow processing of any subconscious anxieties, fears, shock, excitement etc. associated with uncomfortable change. Through yoga and meditation, these thoughts and fears rise to your consciousness in a safe way and float away creating space for more meaningful thoughts and understanding. We often avoid things that we do not know or are afraid of. Through sitting down quietly and focusing on the breath or the sound OM, our super consciousness is allowed space to expand into our minds and bodies, relaxing our metabolic system by 15% within the first 3 minutes (as opposed to 5-8% within 5 hours of sleep) and in turn facilitating a peace of mind in our awake state.