A few weeks ago, Mum was rushed into a Hospice. The cancer she’d been bravely fighting for the past 7 years seemed to be finally taking its toll and we were told it was a matter of days. I was 5000 miles away teaching a yoga retreat in India at the time, and the feeling of powerlessness was excruciating. The decision to come home early was difficult for a few hours – holding a yoga group is both a huge privilege and honour to me, but my breaking-heart was clear about getting home to my family. I made peace with everything. I made sure my group was taken care of and they in turn they held me so tenderly, it was so beautiful. I caught a flight home to London that same night.
Since then, life has been unfolding in that complicated and weird blend of mysterious and mundane. Mum’s still hanging on in there and refuses to give in (we’re told we share the same resilient, Irish spirit!) – she’s even holding on for St Patrick’s Day!
We go through the motions of daily living (trips in and out of London, her care, medication, nutrition) while preparing for her death (funeral plans, her will & estate) – often in the same conversation, as if these two strands of life were daily cousins.
Sitting alongside and watching her face her imminent death is an incredibly humbling experience – the ultimate lesson in powerlessness, as life unfolds as it will and she chooses her own way of navigating this difficult path. The desire to make it all ok comes over me like a thunderstorm, followed by the gentle sound of quiet acceptance.
And for the family, facing the reality of losing a loved one day after day is one of the most profound reminders of living life in the moment. Is there any other choice really?
There have been times of such sadness, of beautiful tenderness and togetherness. And also times of immense frustration, confusion and disconnection. It’s uncomfortable and awful, and yet somehow still beautiFUL and so real. Can I hold both of these truths? If it’s not about this – about love and heart-breaking loss – then what? Every moment is a gift, and every moment has intrinsic value – the potential to transform in some way – but it’s a matter of perspective.
We might not always like the direction life takes us, but so often it’s inevitable and a necessary part of being human. So much in life is going to trigger us, especially in these epic moments where our world as we know it is about to fall apart. And it’s now that my (our) yoga and life’s practice is tested – can you love NOW? Can you be in the truth NOW? Can you stay in the presence of your own light NOW? Can you stand in the presence of someone else’s suffering and STILL have faith in it all NOW? Even to this, can you say Yes?
Really we can’t know that until we’re in it. But right now, today, I’m choosing to be all in. I want to feel every single charge of emotion that flies through my body, to wrestle with the crazy-unrealistic expectations I often have, and to be a witness in the heart of this experience with everyone around us. Because the truth is, the moment we stop saying yes, when we resist the reality of life – this is where (my darlings) the suffering really begins.
The tools of yoga and meditation are still my go to place. They allow us to navigate the difficult and tricky waves in life, not to bypass them.
So if you’re in the midst of your own turmoil (big or small it doesn’t matter), and you’re doubting your capacity to make it through, please trust me when I say – sweetheart, you are bigger and stronger than you know right now. Let this experience show you that, and embrace it all!
Even to this, I say Yes!
Sending love to each and every one of you, and missing you all terribly.