Eileen Fleming - Author, Reporter, Baby Boomer Activist - Health, Wellness, Spirituality
Nine years ago, during my first of eight trips to the Holy Land, I embarked upon a spiritually driven political mission and was inspired by this quote I took to heart:
“The peace of the world begins in Jerusalem”- Rev. Theodore Hessburgh
Last Friday afternoon, I embarked upon an eight-month adventure into a Yoga Teacher Training Course-NOT to become a teacher but to learn how to avoid further injuries to my decrepit joints and bulging cervical disc.
This Friday morning at One Yoga, Jenny who teaches Yoga Foundations inspired, encouraged and comforted me when she introduced our class to "Wabi Sabi".
Jenny explained that wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfections and compassion calls to see our weaknesses are what make us perfectly imperfect!
Wabi-sabi “celebrates cracks and crevices and all the other marks that time, weather, and loving use leave behind. It reminds us that we are all but transient beings on this planet-that our bodies as well as the material world around us are in the process of returning to the dust from which we came. Through wabi-sabi, we learn to embrace liver spots, rust, and frayed edges, and the march of time they represent.”
Wabi stems from the root wa, which refers to harmony, peace, tranquility, and balance.
The original meaning included sad, desolate, and lonely, but has now come to mean simple, unmaterialistic, humble, in tune with nature and just as content with abundance as with nothing.
Sabi by itself means "the bloom of time".
The ancient definition of sabi was "to be desolate" but now is understood as "to grow old."
By the thirteenth century, sabi's meaning had evolved into taking pleasure in things that were old and faded.
Sabi things carry their years with dignity and grace.
During my first weekend intensive Yoga training session, the instructor outlined HOW:
Yoga can be a healing practice but it also can cause serious injury.
Yoga is the union of body, mind and spirit.
Yoga gives energy-NOT depletes it.
Yoga equips us with skills for ALL of life: Intention in action with detachment from outcome.
The yoga positions/poses/asanas that we practice in the West are not 5,000 years old but less than 100.
The 5,000-year-old yoga wisdom is about breathing and meditation.
Yoga does not fix people but can equip people to retain [or regain!] freedom, comfort and ease of movement and that requires balancing flexibility and strength.
The instructor also introduced the class to a Visual Body 3-D APP which illuminated for me what a class I took in anatomy and physiology [40 years ago!] did NOT: or maybe I just missed the lecture on fascia!
If we could peel all the skin from our bodies we would see that we are enrobed in fascia- a connective fibrous tissue made of collagen that can be thin such as on the bottom of our feet or thicken into ligaments [which connect bone to bone] or tendons [which connect muscle to bone] which enmesh into muscle.
What I have learned over the last eight months since I began practicing yoga:
There are many asanas/poses/positions that I will never do; because I would hurt myself!
Over the last eight months of doing yoga asanas/poses/positions, I have exacerbated issues with my knees, shoulders and neck.
However, after RESTING and altering the asana; I can approach the pose in the way that is best for my body and not inflict anymore pain.
I have come to believe that as long as people breathe and can follow simple directions they can do yoga safely.
I know that the number two reason Americans seek medical attention is for knee pain -cough is first.
I know that orthopedists perform more surgery on Americans knees than on any other American body part.
I know that eight months after saying NO to bilateral total knee replacements: my knees rarely bother me!
I have learned that yogis love to laugh and they always end class with deep relaxation so that one leaves feeling revived.
I have also learned that yogis can be the most compassionate people.
I already knew that COMPASSION is Manifestation of The Divine and Deliberate Movement is Prayer: