During one of my recent yoga classes I was walking through the maze of students who were spread out on the floor, lying in Savasana, and I tripped over a block, narrowly avoiding landing spread eagle on top of an unsuspecting body!
Unsuspecting? Or so I thought!
Then I heard the words ‘pick your feet up’. I chuckled to myself as I was transported back into my past and heard my mother (Pauline) saying exactly the same thing when I was a languid teenager, though she generally attached ‘for God’s sake’ to the sentence.
Along with…. ‘don’t chew gum or you’ll look like a cow’; ‘stay out of the sun or you’ll shrivel up like a prune; (I ignored that piece of advice), ‘stay out of trouble, (I did, most of the time); ‘don’t just sit there, do something’ (there is an irony to this comment as I now teach meditation and do just sit there!); ‘put your shoulders back’; ‘put some colour on your face – you look as though you have just been dug up’ (white lipstick was in); ‘look on the bright side’; ‘swear and I shall wash your mouth out with soap and water’; ‘do the best with what you have so that others will be proud to be in your company; and, ‘if you think you are going out looking like that then you had better have another thought coming’. (This latter comment came with her physically blocking the doorway). I could go on and on. Couldn’t we all?
But what I remember mum for most of all, and certainly with great gratitude and love, is her advice to:
Always look deeply into the eyes of those you meet and try to understand what is behind them. She often spoke about not understanding another until you walked a mile in their shoes which of course was adapted from an old Native Indian proverb.
Fabulous, heartfelt advice from a woman who was so beautiful on the exterior but suffered so much on the interior with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Clinical Depression. On a superficial level often she would be fine, especially when she was laughing…but often I would look into those eyes, and see the sadness, pain, vulnerability and fear behind them.
Her words prompted me to write this little mindfulness practice:
In your eyes,
I see you in me
You see me in you.
But rarely do I realise this is how I am seeing you or you are seeing me.
It is said that the eyes are the windows to the soul.
If I see you clearly, my heart shall then recognise your heart
My mind will recognise your mind
My spirit will speak to you – for you are me and I am you.
We are not so different – we share similar emotions, joy and pain, sadness and laughter.
We hurt as each other.
We laugh as each other.
Our tears come from the same place,
Our kindness stems from the same depth.
I honour you…please honour me,
so that there is little distance but much love between us.
P.S. This picture was the one my father carried with him. She was 21 in the photograph. When he died I asked mum if I could have it. She was taken aback that I would want it….and would be surprised to know that I look at it every day, to this day, constantly being reminded of her courage and wisdom.