"In difficult times we need to change the rules. And in difficult times, we need to make exceptions to the rules."
This statement was made at a time in India when tradition did not allow women to be taught yoga and chanting. Krishnamacharya saw that the men were pre-ocupied and losing interest in these ancient studies and that it would be necessary to include the women to carry on the teachings. Now, we may not like the sound of that tradition excluding women, however, the important note here is that he broke an ancient rule in order to respond to the current situation. We hold on to traditions as well, especially around holidays and dates that hold significance for us. Actually, we carry on traditions constantly in our everyday lives. And even when we experience a drastic change like losing a loved one, we still try to carry on with our "self anointed" responsibilities. Obviously the basic responsibilities of self care and taking care of our families cannot be ignored, but, sometimes we can reach out and ask someone to help us. I say "self anointed" because I have found that certain duties (like hosting a specific dinner and making a specific menu) were really more important to me than the people attending the event. In reality, I found that the family members were actually ok letting go of the drawn out dinner experience and might have more fun just hanging out. At work, I was under the impression that "only I" could handle certain jobs, when actually letting go of those responsibilities allowed someone else to step forward. Not only does this allow for that someone to help out, but, it also gives them a chance to shine. Win, win. The truth is that your friends, family and co-workers feel really good when they can help someone who is grieving. The only requirement of you is to communicate what you need. I created an ingenious response to the question "how can I help?". I respond "there's nothing that can be done". Now, this is true in regards to the inner process that needs to happen in grieving, but, maybe there is something that can be done. Maybe I could say that I would love to go walking or bike riding on a regular basis and would love for someone to encourage me to do so by meeting up at certain times. Yeah, that would be nice! Think about what would be nice for you and let someone know. The loss of my loved one has truly left a big hole in my heart, yet, little by little, love can fill in around that sweet space held just for him.
Moving ahead in 2021, I choose to graciously accept help that meets my needs. I'll honor my ability to change the rules that need to be changed, and keep an open mind to experience life in a new way. How about you? What do you choose?
Val Spies, Lotus Pond Yoga Studio owner and Yoga Teacher training director.