It is the start of my vacation with my family and a series of travels that I'm not sure I am ready for. We head off to a cottage to enjoy life by the water. The sun, the beach, swimming and friends. This I wholeheartedly look forward to! I will be home for several hours and head to the other side of the country to visit a friend. This I am not sure I am ready for.
The main purpose of my visit is to be with an old friend who has a dying parent. My purpose is to simply be there for her. I know that plans can be what they are but not to focus on that. I plan to cook some food for her as food is one way I know how to comfort people. I plan to hold her when she cries, as I am sure she will. I plan to sit with her mom who was so kind to me many years ago when I felt I had no one. I plan to be with her mom so that my friend can go out and have a good cup of coffee, alone. I also plan to be with my friend and laugh and maybe go for a walk. I plan to cry myself as I am sure I will be lost for words. I plan to be speechless as I'm not sure what to say to someone who is about to lose their parent. I plan to hug my friend as old friends to, with no expectations. I plan to have no real plans.
I want to be there for her. I hope I am ready? It was just a few months ago that I sat next to my own grandmother and held her hand as she passed away. I'm not sure how close to the other side my friends mother is but this pain is still fresh for me. My biggest hope is that I will be strong enough for my friend to help her through this difficult time. AFter all is this not what friends do? We are there for each other no matter what. How can I tell her that I understand, when really I have no idea what it is like to lose a parent? I fear for her when I leave, who else will be there for her? I will be there to offer a break and comfort but then who will she have when I am gone? Will the few short days be enough to give her strength? She is such a strong woman already, this I know. But at a time like this we need all that we can get and I know she is exhausted. I want to tell her that it will get easier but I know the months after will be hard. I wish we could live in the same city and not different sides of the country as I am sure she will need me more after. I hope she will come home to me and my home a soft place for her to land. A place where she can sleep, eat and not think about anything...
I will try to be present for her. Be there for her and give her whatever she needs. I hope all I give will be just what she needs and that I can give enough. I can't wait to see her and am thrilled that I can do this for her. 10 more sleeps, ready or not here I go!
As a yoga teacher I see a lot of students at any given time. I teach a few classes with regulars but I also substitute a lot of classes. I recently finished one of my "series" classes. The group has been with me since March. We were supposed to end in May but I was able to create another 6 weeks for them and we were all so happy to be able to extend our time together.
At the beginning of our last class, one of my students was asking about how to carry on for the month of August when we would not be together. I tried to assure her and the rest of the group that they would be fine. They all know that I am big on helping my students establish a home practice, even beginners. They did not seem too convinced that they would be able to go it alone, no matter how much encouragement I gave them.
We started the practice anyways as I thought that perhaps the breath, our ever powerful, always there, breath would help us out. I looked out into their faces and a wave of calm started to wash over them. OK this is a start. I took this opportunity to remind them that sometimes the practice starts and ends with the breath. If there is more and it is there, the rest will follow. We moved into very slow, very basic sun salutations. This is where I thought they might start on their own. We did a few rounds together, I called it out and demonstrated while they followed along. Then I left them on their own. I told them to do an entire round, one on each side of the body, following their own breath and their own pace. I could see the panic in some of their faces. I told them that they knew what do to, that they could not do it wrong. It wouldn't be wrong it would just be different, let the body tell you what to do if you forget. I kept telling them that they were doing great, listen to the breath and follow the breath. At the end the smiles on each of their faces was amazing. One person in particular caught my attention. Her grin was bigger than anything and I could see the sense of accomplishment and pride on her face. I was so proud of them myself but it was even more for me to see the pride on their faces.
We practiced some more favorites as requested and as always I threw in a couple of new or variations on postures that they already knew. I let them enjoy a nice long sivasana and our practice was over. The question came up again about trying out other classes. I strongly encourage my students, especially new students, to try lots of different teachers and different styles until you find the one you like - then switch. There is something to learn from everyone. My response was no different "go out there and try more". The follow up question was "do you think we are good enough"? I struggled with this one a bit - my answer was this "you all have all the tools you need to go to another yoga class and know what's going on, if you don't you'll learn something new". I brought them back to the sun salutation - "you all did that on your own" - "you can handle the rest on your own".
As a teacher I think I feel the most accomplished when a student feels proud of what they've done. I love to see the smiles when faced with a new challenged. They've either tried it and fallen over and laughed or tried it and smiled because they can do it. I just want them to try it. If they can't, then do something else. Maybe learn something about your body or something about yourself. Whatever your reasons for practicing, enjoy yourself and be proud!
Jennifer is an RMT, long time yoga practitioner and teacher. Follow her musings as an RMT, yoga teacher, prenatal educator and mother of three.