The Best Gift
And It Doesn't Cost Anything
The best gift you can give is kindness. In addition to offering it up to others, why not be kind to yourself?
Picture yourself participating in a yoga class, led by a masterful teacher, whether in person or via Zoom. Imagine that your body has limitations due to your age, unique physique, previous injury or trauma, or illness. Your instructor may be capable of demonstrating a pose as it was initially designed. You may try to replicate what s/he is doing, or you may know, in advance that you can’t execute it perfectly. What do you do?
1) Try as hard as you can to do it “right,” running the risk of injury or unnecessary strain?
2) Stop taking yoga because it’s just not your thing?
3) Listen for suggested modifications of the pose, and try those?
Kindness to ourselves is embedded in option #3. It’s the opposite of pushing past our limitations. It’s respecting “what is” rather than striving to be/do what we cannot do. It’s okay to modify our ambitions and stop over-reaching for perfection. I’ve learned this lesson, repeatedly, in my yoga practice.
Another lesson learned on the yoga mat: it’s okay to receive or accept support. Ideally, a pose meant to improve balance is done solely by relying on your body’s strength. But if you lack that strength, do you give up? Nope. You place yourself near a wall, or piece of furniture (if you’re at home) and use these options to steady yourself. This does not make you a flunkie. Quite the opposite, really. It means you’re excelling at being kind to yourself: accepting support will make you stronger. Promise!
Kindness is free. It’s also freeing. That’s my wish for you this month: to give your body, mind and spirit the gift of freedom. Easy to say, and much harder to do. Perhaps if we reach for that wall or piece of furniture, so to speak, for reinforcement, this gift-giving will be made easier.
PS: For more on this topic, don't miss this month's Prompts for Joy. Scroll down a wee bit . . .
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Prompts For Joy
Click here for the best poem I’ve ever heard about kindness.
(Forgive the video quality and relish the words!)
Click here for a song worth listening to multiple times.
(Many thanks to NuritaYoga.com for this inspiring and deeply instructional resource.)
Next year, blog posts may be more sporadic. Please let me know if there are any topics related to the practice of cultivating joy that you'd like me to consider or cover!
Assembling a Life
My father’s photos and paintings have always been a source of joy and comfort . . . even in down or depressing times. Assembling a Life: Claiming the Artist in My Father (and Myself) tells the story. Loaded with color photos (and some black and white) on just about every page, it’s a visual feast.
Click here for a short video about what motivated me to write this book.
Click here for book reviews.
To purchase Assembling a Life (premium softcover or e-book), click here.
I occasionally share creative endeavors on Instagram. Click here if you'd like to follow me.
About the Photos
Top: Namaste Pose. Collage by Martha Clark Scala. My favorite translation of the Sanskrit word, namaste, is “I bow to you.” Or “greetings to you.”
Next: A recently unearthed photo of Geoffrey Clark, camera in bare hands, in the Alps. Photo by Martha Clark Scala.
Next: Gray-Haired Unburdened Child at Play. Photo by Jana Rickerson.
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