In the last pages of Henri Nouwen’s, Life of the Beloved, he asks us to consider, “But where and how can we rediscover the sacred and give it the central place in our lives?” As I read his words, I hear him affirming that everything and everyone and every moment is sacred, but how do we become aware? How do we open our eyes? How do we tune our ears?” My teacher, Jesus, talked about seeing and hearing in Matthew 13 when he quotes the prophet Isaiah
You will indeed listen, but never understand, and you will indeed look, but never perceive. For this people’s heart has grown dull, and their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; so that they might not look with their eyes, and listen with their ears, and understand with their heart and turn—and I would heal them. (then Jesus says to his disciples in v. 16) But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.
Jesus modeled a way of seeing and hearing in this world that his disciples were invited to practice. For me, the practice of yoga helped me tune into the sacred in every moment. In the book, What We Say Matters: Practicing Nonviolent Communication, authors Judith Hanson Lasater and Ike K. Lasater write that the practice of yoga is spiritual when we are brought into the present moment. When we awaken to this breath, to this movement, to this feeling, to this thought, then the breath and movement offer us a spiritual practice. This spiritual practice peels back the layers of hardness, protection, dis-ease and opens us up to the vulnerability of this present moment. This one breath. This one movement. Thich Nhat Hahn says that in a walking meditation, he moves in such a way that with each movement he feels like he is entering the Kingdom of God. He waits to take the next step until he has fully absorbed that sensation of being fully present in the Kingdom in his entire being.
Each moment is sacred when I focus on my breath. Each moment is sacred when I connect to the sensations of my body. Each moment is sacred when I am fully present and fully absorb a hug. Each moment is sacred when I am aware of deep sadness or laugh with unbridled joy.
The first time I realized that yoga impacted my everyday life was when I was standing at the kitchen sink anxious, panicked, angry and lost with how to help my children. I remember thinking…my breath is really shallow right now. I began to breathe deeper mimicking the breath that I used in my yoga class. When I realized what I was doing, I offered a moment of gratitude for my yoga practice and my yoga community. Connecting to and extending my breath brought me peace and centered me in the present moment: I did not have to know all the next steps to help my children, but I did know what to do today. This realization was enough to propel me through my day.
What practices help bring you back to the present moment? How do you shift away from worry about the future or regret about the past back to feeling that this moment is a gift?