On Thursday mornings, I have the privilege of leading a seniors’ chair yoga class. It’s entirely volunteer-based meaning there is no monetary incentive for me to be there..
However, it is my practice of karma yoga. Karma yoga serves a very important purpose in the life of a yogi. Being of service to anyone, without expecting anything in return, is an important practice for literally anyone and everyone to take up. It is good for others and it is also good for your soul.
While at first leading the class made me nervous, I’m so, so grateful, as a young yoga teacher, to have manifested this opportunity.
You see, every week, I get to join a wonderful group of older ladies at a local senior center. We chat, we share, we have a few laughs, we meditate, and we move together. I’ve been able to connect with them and, for the first time, get a better understanding of what it means to live and get older.
All of these lovely ladies have lived varying and different lives! One of them has had seven kids. Another hasn’t had any. Some of them have gone to university and college. Others worked on the family farm. A few got married young. One didn’t every marry. Many of these ladies have traveled the world, from Japan to Spain. A few of the women have lost their husbands; one lost her husband over 20 years ago. There’s a few replaced knees, even a hip, and an often forgotten set of hearing aids. I’ve heard many stories and have listened to all of them with intention and awe.
I’m not sure if any of them realize the profound effect that this experience has had on me, but… it’s been really incredible!
I’ve been referred to as ‘an old soul’ many times before, even by my own mother. Despite this, I never really connected to the older demographic. Maybe out of lack of interest, or doubt that there would even be a connection. Honestly, I used to blame “old people” for a lot of things, without really…. opening my eyes or my mind to the bigger picture. I felt like they were always so judgmental and ignorant, blinded by my own ignorance and criticism. The reality I’ve discovered is that… really… we’re not so different!
Today, one of them was giving me a piece of life advice. I’ve had to paraphrase, as I didn’t have a chance to jot it down, word for word; however, the point is still loud and clear.
Whether you have money, or not, just…. go and do it. Live your life. Don’t wait until you are older, or retired. That is… a waste. You are working now, you are living now; spend your money. Have fun! Live the life that you want to live.
When I was younger, all I wanted was a nice, expensive dress…. but I had no money. Finally, when I was working and had money, I was spending it all on my girls, never saving anything for myself. Now…. now that I am retired, I have the time and money to go buy myself a nice, fitted dress.
But the only thing is…. I have no where to wear it.
After a few laughs around the table, and nods of agreement, another woman piped up. What she said just about broke my heart, as she was one of the older ladies who had lost her husband.
When my husband and I were young, we both worked hard every day. Even after having the kids, as soon as I could go back to work, I would. We made all these plans for… what we’d do with all of our money, once we were done working. We talked about travelling and seeing the world, maybe building a small house on the lake whenever we finally came home…
But, when you’re young, working and planning for the future, you… you don’t think about your health. By the time we finally got to retirement, we were old, tired, and couldn’t travel. We couldn’t do half of the things we had waited for. And then…. he passed, and…. all the time we spent working…. it didn’t really mean much.
I was surprised when a lot of the women agreed with her, that…. there will come a point when you just don’t want to do the things you’ve always wanted to anymore. Even when you’re retired, and have the freedom to go wherever you want…. you simply won’t want to. Or worse yet, you can’t.
This is obviously not the case for everyone. Lots of older people travel and see the world during retirement, often with their long-time partner (or whoever they please, no judgement). However, if you are dealing with an illness or grieving a loss, especially during retirement, sometimes it’s really difficult to keep up an adventurous lifestyle. It’s far easier to stay home and do…. nothing.
They then turned to me and stressed the importance of me living a life that I enjoy, regardless of the money or circumstance. They just about made me pinky promise to have more fun, spend my time and my money however I want, and to make the most out of this beautiful life that I have been blessed with.
Honestly, it was such a…. pure, special moment. It was a sober awakening, for lack of better words, which are rare but will absolutely rock you.
Life is short. Well, it’s the longest thing you’ll ever know… technically. However, as you get older, time seems to go by faster. Your perception of time changes as you age. Add to that, you have to go through school, and work, and kids, and bills… Unfortunately, there is no pause button for any of this. There’s no way to put the rest of the world on hold while you turn in and relax. The world keeps on turning. Life keeps on happening, with or without you.
This is a lesson of life… and subsequently, of death. No one ever knows the specifics of when they will die. However, it is the only guarantee in life. There is so much mystery surrounding death that it leaves many people dreading and fearing the unknown and the inevitable. It also leaves people feeling like they have to rush to get everything done and crammed into their Earth walk in as little time as possible, wearing themselves down in their youth only to result in a tired, ill old age where it’s hard to enjoy anything.
So…. what have I taken from all this?
MAKE TIME FOR THE THINGS YOU LOVE. Whether it’s an activity, or a person, or community, or an animal friend, or a hobby, or a holiday to place from out of your childhood. Just… make time for it. Do it NOW. Don’t put it off. Stop waiting for when you “have the time”. You have the PRESENT MOMENT.
THAT IS ALL YOU HAVE EVER NEEDED. EVER.
Also, BE GRATEFUL. I’m so grateful for the breath of life within me and this human experience I am living. I definitely consider myself to be a person who believes that everything happens for a reason and that there is a lesson in every experience. I don’t believe in coincidence; however, I do believe that life is often random and that the multiverse works in mysterious, unexplained ways… but not without purpose! I have been blessed by some governing energy and I acknowledge it on a daily basis. From my health, to my job, to my friends. If you’re my friend, THANK YOU! All of the people that I have met and encountered, gotten to know, loved, and even the few I have lost… THANK YOU! I’ve been taught so much, by every single one of you. My life is so rich with love, wisdom, and beauty, because of you!
Lastly, I think it’s really, really important to make time to relax. No, I don’t mean browse Facebook or Instagram while laying in bed before falling asleep. Unplug complete. Power down and turn in. I mean… there’s always meditation for this, or you could: treat yourself to a hot bath, try a float tank experience (if feasible, or try Groupon), get a massage (try a student clinic for discounted rates or, again, Groupon), attend a restorative yoga class, take a nap, and when you really need it, don’t be afraid to take a day off from an active lifestyle or workout schedule. Rest is gains, alright? You owe it to your body to relax! Some stress is very good for the body; too much stress is not. What’s the motto? Honor your body!
I’m so happy that for this life during a time in human history where technology and the internet allow me to share this wisdom with you, from all over the globe! It’s a truly wonderful thing. Maybe even miraculous. If you’re following this blog, then THANK YOU!
Now, what are you waiting for? This is your wake up call! It’s time to get out there, do what makes you happy, make real connections with others, and live your fucking life! Regardless of where you are or what you have. Start now, exactly where you are. YOU are responsible for yourself and your joy. Be grateful for what you have, make time for what you love, and remember to relax! All you have is NOW, and that IS ALL YOU NEED! (and love…. so be sure to love your self unconditionally)