With the coming of deep cold, the first snows and the new year I find myself thinking about the past, the future, and transformation. Yoga philosophy holds that the past and the future are all inherent in the present and that the exceptional Yoga practitioner can develop the ability to understand the past and the future.
Each first snow I always remember my aunts that made such a difference in my life. My aunt Kay lived across the street from an older gentleman named John Russell, a very kind, hard working man with a thick Irish brogue. It was his habit to shovel out my aunt’s stairs and walkway before working on his own house. Even though I was very young at the time, his act of kindness made a deep impression on me. I asked my aunt why her neighbor was shoveling her snow, asking no money for his services and seeking no credit for what he did. In her typically laconic way she simply said to me that he was a “good scout.”
Many years later at the beginning of my Yoga practice and the end of a very challenging business career, memories of my aunt and her world would return to me. It was late December and I was traveling to New York City to work on a complicated transaction that had to be completed before year’s end. The principles involved in the transaction were stereotypical of what you would expect to find in New York City’s commercial real estate industry. The company I worked for was very bottom line oriented. As I flew over mid town Manhattan at first light, I saw that the city had been transformed by a covering of fresh snow, the tops of the buildings looking fabulous and golden in the dawn light. Looking down from above it seemed as if I had been transported to “that high place where all the kingdoms of the world can be seen.” Right then I remembered my aunt’s neighbor on that snowy morning so long ago. His motivations were so different from those of the people I encountered in my career. I had a flash of intuition about my past and future. I knew that I wanted to be more like my aunt’s neighbor. I wanted something different for my life, to be engaged in some activity that helped people. I wanted to be upright.
This realization was a turning point. I resolved to change my means of livelihood, to move more in the direction of my higher aspirations. I knew that my future would be different. Although far from being exceptional, I knew that my budding Yoga practice had given me some knowledge of my past and future. It had started to work on me. More than physically, it was changing me psychologically and emotionally. The practice of Yoga was making me more sensitive to my past and fueling the impetus to make the changes necessary to bring my life in line with what I really valued.
Beyond its ability to reduce stress and heal injury, the practice of Yoga can be a vehicle for transformation, bringing insight into our deepest aspirations and a potency to our resolutions for change. It is Candace and my hope for the new year that Yoga continues to grow in you, that your practice brings you contact with yourself in a way that widens the will… the will to develop concentration, the will to become aware, and the will to find real peace, meaning and happiness in life.
Image above – Mercury Passing In Front of the Sun by Giacomo Balla