When I first started teaching yoga my close friends gave me a silver pendant necklace. The pendant is a circle; on one side there is a tree with a leaf falling to the ground and the word “heal” by the tree trunk. The other side has the words “Be brave and have courage” written in script. Over the years some students have asked what the words on my necklace say, others I have simply caught gazing at it, no one, up until this morning, has really said more than they like it or find it beautiful. This morning a student asked me what was on the pendant, I told her, then she looked at me and said, “Oh, are you going through a hard time right now?” I was taken aback. I wasn’t sure how to answer. I don’t necessarily associate the necklace or what it says with going through a hard time. And if I was going through a hard time I wouldn’t share that with my students, especially not a student I have just met for the first time. The only time I share really personal information is when there is a lesson to be learned from the story and I want to share the lesson with my students, and even then I am very cautious about what, and how, I share personal information. I shared that the necklace had been given to me by close friends who had also been my when I was transitioning out of my career prior to teaching yoga. This student was very nosy and wanted to know what I had done prior and the whole story of why I left. It was 6:50AM, I was not interested in baring my soul to a stranger right before teaching. I was reminded that it is important to keep your boundaries clear, even when interacting with someone who is pushing those boundaries or unclear with his or her own. I shared the bare bones of my story and was relieved when another student came into the studio and I had somewhere productive to divert my attention.
I have been thinking about the words and image on the pendant since my interaction this morning. Sure, I can see now, with a little more coffee and sleep, why the student might initially equate the words with needing reassurance through a hard time. Who knows, maybe she is currently going through a hard time and in need of extra strength and healing, which is why she made that assumption. However, I see the necklace as a reminder, a reminder to stay open, present, and embrace life as it is. Life is not easy, it takes being brave and having courage to get up, face the world with open arms and a kind heart day after day. It is far easier to close oneself off and harden oneself in self-protection from all of the hurt and pain that is out there. Life can also be beautiful and offer moments of contentment, connection, and joy, we must be brave enough and courageous enough to stay open and present for the good moments so we don’t miss them or gloss over them as unimportant. We all have some pain, some story that we need to heal from, some wound that ripped us open and made us hurt so much and so deeply we lost sight of our bravery and courage to keep going with openness and kindness for others and ourselves. Healing isn’t a one shot deal, it is an ongoing process, a process that requires you to “be brave and have courage” over and over again.
There is a passage by Pema Chodron I have been especially drawn to lately that feels fitting to close with:
Things falling apart is a kind of testing and also a kind of healing. We think that the point is to pass the test or to overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.