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The Things That Count

Sometimes, when I am feeling low, I start looking at the world in intense detail, as if I’m searching for something to pick me up or to remind me that whatever void in my own life is making me sad isn’t really missing. It’s out there, lingering, and I should take heart because in time I’ll grasp it once again.  It was while I was in this mindset and teaching yoga that I witnessed something special.

 My students were all laying still on the floor in a spinal twist. After I gave hands on assistance to the 9 people in the class, I stood back for a few moments to just enjoy the restful nature of this particular moment, and I noticed that one woman in class was laying next to her teen age son (they always take this particular class together) and she had stretched her hand out to his and her fingers were running gently along his palm in a sweet, motherly way. And after about two minutes of this, the son opened his eyes and cast her the dearest smile I’ve ever witnessed. I watched this innocent loving exchange in the silence and thought my heart would explode, because it was just the evidence I needed to remind me that intimacy and trust and unspoken examples of tenderness are exchanged between people all the time. 

 A few moments later, the class ended and I looked at the boy and said, “How do you feel?”

He smiled sleepily and said, “Totally great.”

And I knew he really did feel great, because his yoga experience tonight wasn’t about stretching or balancing or breathing. It was about sharing a lovely activity with his mother, which led to a moment of sweet communion.  You can’t plan that kind of thing. I suppose ten years (or ten minutes) from now, their exchange will be forgotten, or might have gone unnoticed from the start. The mother and son may never remember this particular class or the gentle caress, but I always will, because I believe that the act of touching a hand of someone you care about, while not life altering, leave feelings that resonant forever. Layer upon layer of simple, tender acts create a blanket of trust that softens relations between people, and this is what makes it possible to endure conflict later.  Anyway, I was not meant to notice what transpired, but I did, and I’m glad. It was a beautiful, moving thing and it filled me with such a longing I could barely breathe. 

 Sometimes it feels like I’m nothing more than an audience for other people’s lives. I watch the world around me and reflect, and because of my heightened awareness, I see (and often record) things that others all around me miss.  I’m glad now that I’m older that I no longer go through life so self absorbed that I fail to notice or appreciate the small signs of beauty all around me. I guess writing and yoga have made a huge impact on how I look at the world, and even if all this personal reflection makes me sad sometimes, I’m grateful for it.   

Feeling is, after all, what makes life an intense trip. 


About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

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