Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Mother Teresa’s “Do it anyway”

The story of Agnes Bojaxhiu, the Albanian Roman Catholic nun who became, rather more famously, Mother Teresa, is a testament to selflessness and devotion. When we think to complain about the difficulties of our lives, our struggles, our doubts, and our feelings of insecurity and uncertainty, we can look to the supernal example of a woman who left her family, her home, her country, and every comfort to care for “the poorest of the poor” in Calcutta. That she became an unstoppable force of one, untiring and unceasing in her efforts, is more than an inspiration: it is proof that the world can be changed for the better. This poem - “Do it anyway” - was discovered, so the story goes, written on a scrap of paper tacked to the wall of her room.

People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centred;
Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies;
Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere, people may cheat you;
Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years building, someone may destroy overnight;
Build anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.
The good you do today will often be forgotten;
Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

The original poem was written in 1968 (by a Dr. Kent Keith), and Mother Teresa made some amendments, the most notable of which may well be in the last line. “It was never between you and them anyway.” 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012



It's a common thing to hear in kitchens now, or anywhere where household discussions are going on, "Breathe. Wait a minute, Just breathe." 

We all know that things get better when we pay attention to the breath. We're more in the moment, more present, more true. 

There are things to do. Enlightenment unfolds as it will, but there are ways to become more accessible to it. Practices. Meditation. Vigils. Fasting. Walks. Whatever you give time and attention to. Rumi says it's important to relish these doings. As work becomes play, breath easier, the weaving becomes elegant. 

In the rhythm of a practice, life begins to fit together at the water table level. You feel the artistry moving through a web of conduits. 

Conventionally, we think of repetition as deadening, but in a spiritual practice, repetition, done with delight, renews the freshness, the originality, the brightness of spontaneity. 

Doing some awareness work regularly sharpens the point, makes inner life more beautiful, and that beauty revives. 

Coleman Barks, The Illuminated Rumi

Wednesday, March 14, 2012


I am taking today off after practicing for 6 days straight.  There is a little part of me that is still saying 7 days because I practiced twice on Saturday.  For Lent, I gave up candy.  So that I would not feel like it was just about  giving something up I decided to add practicing once a day.  Increasing practice days has led me to make smarter decisions about the classes I am taking.  For example, following an hour and a half level 2 class with an hour yin class the next day.  I have not had to ice anything even though I pulled my left calf muscle while running about a month ago.  That injury has been very interesting for me because of all the balance poses we do at FSYC.  As I have come to know my body better over time my left side is actually stronger than my right.  When we add 3-4 balance poses together however, my calf muscle just isn't happy and I have to take a break.

Taking a break and resting is what I offer out to my students all the time when I teach.  While the voice in my head may be shying away from taking the break my body is shutting down and I simply cannot hold the pose anymore so I have no choice otherwise I might fall to my knees.   I simply place both of my hands on the floor and steady myself and my breath and I simply wait for the next transition.  It reminds me of when I lived in Pennsylvania and I would take the train to work.  I always had to change trains in Bryn Mawr.  Just standing and waiting.  No texting, no cell phone, no reading, just waiting.  Noticing everything around me and taking it all in.  Same thing when I wait for the next pose.  I get to hear my breath, the sound of the person breathing next to me, and I just soften into the moment.  Not wanting to go anywhere, not feeling like I have to leave where I am.

Just being very patient as I wait for the next pose, the next stoplight, the next train, the next moment.