July 13, 2013

Love is a Practice

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:22 pm by satsanga

I have come to realize that real love is a practice, a verb, an action word. We forget that. We say, ‘I love you.’ We say it as if it is a fact– a thing that has happened, a noun. We have said it and it is done. Real love, the love that heals, nurtures, and changes the world, is more than that. Real love is what you do on the easy days and the hard days, when you have time and when you don’t. It is your passion and your commitment. I have come to realize that you either practice love or you don’t– and it is the love we practice that changes everything.” Realized and said by me (Catherine Cook-Cottone)

This was the quote that I read on Thursday morning at 6 AM Yoga. The class was beautiful and sweaty and we all left with smiles. I had a few meetings and then I headed over to the East-side of Buffalo to teach yoga with a group of vounteers. The whole way over I was singing to the radio, window was down, feeling love in my chest—I could actually feel a lightness and warmth radiate from my heart. I parked my car and stopped to take photo of lilies in the garden by the church and posted it on Facebook. I found the other volunteers inside and we were chatting about the plans for our 2-hour yoga class for the summer-camp kids. We decided to play music during savansana, “My Own Two Hands.” I had a Bose speaker in my car (I was teaching yoga later at Amherst High School). I volunteered to go back to out to my car and get it.

As I opened the car door, I saw the glass from my passenger side window all over the seat. It is funny how things move into your consciousness. It was slow and fast. I felt a strange sense of time slowing as the information coming to me through my eyes met my cognitive processing- my car had been broken into at 12:30 PM, midday, right in front of the church, people all around. Then, more thoughts, “My brief case, my purse, my yoga bag,” and then, “Oh no! Our trip to Africa—my passport, yellow fever card…” and more, and more. I reached for my brief case- gone. Then, I reached for my yoga bag- gone. Then, my purse- it was there. My yoga mat was there too.

I grabbed my purse and felt worried, scared, and a little shaken. I live in a very safe and friendly neighborhood. I have not experienced crime in many, many years. Despite seeing it on the news each night, I had forgotten what it feels like. It hurts. It is scary.

Everyone helped. We called 911 and then scanned the neighborhood for the bags. Maybe the thief grabbed the itouch and the Bose speaker and tossed my daily planner (with photos of my children and private practice schedule), the yoga sutras, my book notes and contract, my mantra given to me by my mentor, my yoga notes, and quotes for classes—“Yes,” I thought. “They don’t need that stuff. They will take the stuff that can be easily sold and leave my personal items aside for me.” This wasn’t the case. We never found them.

The miracle, the blessing, was that my passport, driver’s license, credit cards, cash, checkbook etc.… were all in my purse, which was in my hands—not stolen It was in my hands, my own two hands.  We are leaving for Nairobi Kenya Monday at 2:00 PM. It was Thursday afternoon. I had private practice with patients all day Friday that I could not cancel because the schedule as in my now-missing-planner. The likelihood of me retrieving my passport and all that I needed to leave by Monday was slim to no chance. How did someone steal everything BUT what would have completely disrupted our research mission?

The police officer arrived and proceeded with his routine. He told me not to go alone if someone called and said they found my stuff. He said, often people are re-victimized when they meet up to get their stuff back. He said, “You are already a victim now. I don’t want you to be a victim twice.”

“What? What?” I thought, “I am NOT a victim. Someone stole my stuff- that is all. I am not a victim. Not now, not ever.”

With my purse in hand, I headed in to help with yoga. A young man from the neighborhood had been searching for my things with his friend and said, “We didn’t find anything. I am so sorry. I am so sorry they took your things. You are helping us with yoga and this happened. I am so sorry.” He hugged me as I said, “It is okay. It is just stuff. You are so wonderful for helping me.” He said, “I hope you come back.” I smiled, “I am coming back. Of course I am coming back.”

In yoga, we danced. We did handstands. We did yoga. We sang in Swahili. We listened to, In My Own Two Hands on my friend’s iPhone with no speakers. Then, we all lied down in savasana. Two little 5-year-old girls were lying down in my arms, eyes wide open. We had been practicing together for the past hour. It was magical. I said to them, “Close your eyes and listen.” One little one said to me, “I am afraid to. I am afraid if I close my eyes you will go?” I said, “Close your eyes. I am here.” They closed their eyes for a moment, only a moment.

And so went Thursday. I spent Friday and some of today getting a new planner and piecing my schedule back together. I found a new brief case online and felt waves of a tug at my gut thinking about my annotated yoga sutras, the mantra note, and the photos of my children. The thing is that I live a life of such privilege that I get attached to things. I really believe these things are mine and they will never be taken from me. I really believe that it is sad if they are taken.

That is the illusion.

These things are not mine to lose. And oh how quickly I am able to re-collect the next version of them. What is mine to lose is my passion for bringing the peace and joy in my heart that I experience with yoga to others who need it most. And the only way I can lose that is by thinking that these other things matter at all.

Monday, we are off to Africa- with wide-open hearts ready to study the miracles of the Africa Yoga Project. Thank you Universe!

“Real love is what you do on the easy days and the hard days, when you have time and when you don’t. It is your passion and your commitment. I have come to realize that you either practice love or you don’t– and it is the love we practice that changes everything.” ccc

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