“There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” ~ Leonard Cohen
September 21 is the International Day of Peace, and Leonard Cohen’s birthday.
Together we celebrate.
Peace is defined as “freedom from disturbances, or a state or period in which there is no war, or a war has ended.”
When a person controls the fluctuations of the mind by channeling it elsewhere, they can be free from disturbances. This is yoga.
Likewise, if there is a war within and one is free from the disturbances of the mind during that war, it would be the equivalent of the war ending in one’s mind, body, and soul. The individual will have clarity on how to do and be during these times. This is also yoga.
In my experience practicing and teaching yoga, it is one of the most amazing ways to experience peace. No matter what we are given, being with breath and stillness, or breath and movement, produces a sense of immense calm within.
To paraphrase Leonard Cohen, there will be cracks in life. Discomfort. Struggle. War. But that’s how the light gets in—or, without the mud, the lotus does not bloom.
When my mom passed away a few years ago, and my dad followed her a year later, I was devastated. They had been everything to me and I have no siblings.
I was emotional, yet practical. I cried and I did my best to be productive at the same time. Intermittently being and doing. A traumatic time with a plethora of emotions going through me.
I continued to live, but it was not easy. I did not feel comfortable in my own skin. I wanted to be my innate, passionate self. And while I saw glimpses of it now and then, I was devoid of passion the first couple of months after dad passed away.
As my husband said, he longed for the twinkle in my eyes when I smiled.
A few months after dad passed away, I went on a trip to Copenhagen and Amsterdam with my husband to celebrate my birthday. I ached to experience something new. Through tear filled eyes, I was able to enjoy the profound beauty of the art and architecture around me, as I wandered through narrow alleyways in these charming cities.
In my journey through the death of a loved one, I learned that we can find peace within the crack, in the midst of discomfort—in these four ways:
By having faith that our discomfort paves the way for light.
First and foremost, when we are experiencing a difficult situation in our lives, we need to have hope and be optimistic. We must believe that we will grow and evolve as a result of this situation.
I had utmost confidence that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, irrespective of what it entailed. It allowed me to tear up when emotions flooded me, but also be logical and practical in action. I surrendered to the situation and believed that I would eventually heal.
By calming the fluctuations of the mind as much as possible when the crack appears.
The art of finding union within mind, body, and soul by controlling the fluctuations of the mind is yoga.
I did not go to yoga classes regularly. I went with the flow. There were some days when my body and mind were not ready to drag themselves to a yoga class. But one does not need to practice a Yoga pose to be practicing yoga. I focused on my breath as much as possible.
By being okay with not being okay.
When life situations are extremely challenging, we can find an ease in the struggle, instead of trying to resist the struggle—as if it were a competition.
Instead, can we ease into the situation by saying, “You are here for a reason. I will breathe. I will be. And I will be okay.”
We can allow ourselves to be in the present moment, no matter what it holds. I cried when the tears came. I painted when my heart was ready to pour itself on to the canvas. I went to a therapist when I needed to be sure I was doing okay.
By accepting and embracing the support of loved ones.
In times of turmoil, many of us crawl into a shell or curl up into a ball. We want to stay away from friends and family, because we don’t want to be weak or vulnerable. But vulnerability can also be a show of strength.
We can be honest. We can express how we feel. We can ask and receive support with grace. No man is an island and it takes a village to raise a child.
I expressed my love for my parents, and how much I missed them,to my loved ones. I accepted the support that they offered. This included meals with friends, during which I reminisced about my parents. We also talked about other topics to take my mind off the grief.
Human beings are innately remarkable creatures. But we often forget this—especially when the going gets tougher than expected, or darker than one could ever have imagined.
We can remind ourselves that there is always hope while being in the present moment and accepting the support of loved ones.
Peace. Oneness. Within.
Happy birthday dear Leonard Cohen, and Happy International Day of Peace to all of you.