Discovering the Lesson From An Unexpected Moment. ~ Amy McElroy

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Unexpected moments can sometimes teach us invaluable lessons.

Sinking into our yoga mats in a suspended state of Savasana, the slow sound of symphonic strings supports our sleepy breath. Suddenly across the hall, the gym doors slam shut as a children’s basketball game ends. Accustomed to these outside noises, we do not stir until from outside, a yawning boy’s voice squeaks through our not-so-sound-proof door. “Mommy, are they having a slumber party?”

Gradual giggles spread across the mats on the floor like popping bubbles. Some try to stifle their laughter or let go completely. Others stiffen their limbs like dead wood, never acknowledging the distraction.

Once the final relaxation pose has ended, I bring the class into a seated position with hands to hearts. Before closing class, I ask for something I need more of in my own life—something we were unable to express during our interrupted Savasana: “May we have gratitude for those unexpected moments that offer us something different than what we intended.”

If yoga is, in part, about learning to live in the moment and letting go of expectations, then we all were offered a unique opportunity during Savasana that day. Savasana asks for complete surrender of the body and mind. It begins with an internal focus, like the breath, followed by the emptying of the mind to maintain a state of serenity despite the distractions.

I am a control freak 99 percent of the time.

But when Tuesday morning rolls around, I unroll my yoga mat into the middle of the room and exhale all of my expectations. I teach a Family Yoga class and while wobbly toddlers sit, run or talk (and maybe even participate a little), I practice the art of letting go.

Although I recognized the value of surrendering before the class ended, in that moment of disruption, my breath grew shallow and choppy. My need to control the situation led me to quickly scan the students’ reactions; to question whether or not I should try to re-engage them in final relaxation. I resisted the present rather than open my heart and mind to the moment.

Teachers can continually learn from students, just as parents learn from children, to discover the joy in life. Sometimes we need to let go, even though the rules say differently. Maybe it is especially during those challenging times that we should forget the rules and just go with the flow.

As I weave yoga deeper into my life, I strive to accept the unexpected; to have compassion and patience for its agents. Part of the challenge in embracing unexpected moments lies in remembering its importance: the unexpected is part of the natural and inevitable cycle of change. Without this we would not evolve.

Accepting unanticipated events gently push us to receive an outcome that may be very different from our expectations. Allowing for an alternate outcome leads to a more personal kind of evolution. And evolution and self-growth are essential if we are to thrive.

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Photo: elephant journal archives

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About Amy McElroy

Amy McElroy is a former attorney who shed her nylons for yoga pants to become a yoga instructor. A writer, freelance editor and writing coach, Amy contributes regularly to a writer’s collective for indie authors and is author of the column “At the Root of Things.” Follow her on Twitter @amyjmcelroy.



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