Brenda Klein greeted me this morning in the Yogini's locker room at the studio and gave me a warm embrace, "It's such a huge loss.", referring to my father's passing, May 29th at 9:23 am. I felt like she saw me and could acknowledge where I was in my mind and heart, and it felt really good to be seen. For me that's what yoga is all about, to be fully seen, that without, I feel certain that I could have never gotten beyond my grief to get to the studio a day after his passing, or to remember my childhood in a way that could extract the gifts that he had given to me, rather than focusing on what I didn't get that I thought I should have had.
My father would come home from the factory, work around the house, take a shower and then sit at the kitchen table in his chair. He'd light a cigarette, crack open a can of beer and pour it into a glass and then start in. He was a preacher, a teacher it's how he related to my three sisters and me. Sometimes it was politics, and he would go on and on about how the liberals were ruining this country. Other nights it would be about religion and god and how it was just a crutch for people that couldn't make it on their on in this world. Gratefully he changed his tune later in life, not about religion but god and I have faith that it wasn't too late.
But the topic that I loved the most, that kept me totally lost but at the same time curious in a very distant sort of way was math. I was only tenish at the time and would have much preferred to play with my Barbie dolls. I think I probably was still hanging on to my perfect make-believe world, or either that watch my older sister rock her body to Led Zepplin, Jimmy Hendricks, or The doors.
She was the one that got him all worked up about math, coming home from school with algebra problems and asking him for help. He'd take a pad of paper and write the equation at the top of a page and then he would proceed to tear that thing apart, like a hungry pit bull, relentless in his pursuit. If he didn't get the answer that night he'd come back at it again the next night and the next and he didn't stop until he got it right. Sometimes he kept at it for so long that there would be pages that looked like a hydro graphics map or a secret morse code, one that I felt certain that I would never be able to crack.
I see now, only now after his passing and taking the time to reflect that this one scenario that I witnessed on so many nights, that it gave me 3 wonderful gifts that could have been lost forever if I never find my way to a yoga mat. There is a reciprocal nature to these lessons too, that I bring them to my yoga mat every time I step into the hot room.
1. Be a teacher, command an audience's attention. In yoga, the true gift is to find the teacher inside of you, so that you can carry that knowledge with you, where ever you go. It's like the trump card that you can pull out anywhere in any situation.
Of course, you need to find a great teacher outside of you first, one that can seamlessly give you that knowledge. But once you find one, it's all they could ever want is for you to find what they have already attained within themselves. I would say that we are in the right place, wouldn't you?
2. The mind, the ability to think is extremely valuable. My father was in intellect. It's what he did, and how he connected in this world. He would say, raising his pierced index finger and thumb to his face and slitting his eyes, "knowledge is something that no one could ever take away from you."
In Yoga knowledge is realized through Buddhi that part of the mind that is able to see the truth, what is real. It's the same part of you that is able to discern wisdom. This is probably one of the reasons why Mandy says so frequently, "don't think about it". She wants us to engage other parts of the mind, to allow for wisdom and to realize greater states of consciousness.
3. Never give up. This is, without a doubt the finest gift that he gave me, that he demonstrated night after night, to keep coming back to it until you get it right.
Another Bikram Stoughton Lover