Living close to the bone

I opened my inbox this week to 3 emails from students who wouldn’t be in class. Two had back problems and one had a broken elbow. (disclaimer: these are not Yoga injuries) As the week progressed, another student suffered excruciating back pain from an old injury and another received a sad diagnosis of cancer deep in her chest cavity.

Later, while talking to a friend about therapies to assist the healing process from his fall, I reheard this – we are always in the process of healing. Whether it is physical, emotional, or spiritual – we are all perpetually in recovery.

And yet, in the midst of suffering, grace is present. Taking a few mindful breaths and looking up from our troubles – we can see that in this moment we are often ok and that there is so much – in and around us – that is awe-inspiring.

It reminded me of a recent study by Johns Hopkins University on how the psychedelic drug psilocybin (magic mushrooms) triggered lasting personality change. I was curious about the article after reading the title stating that the drug had created a permanent personality change in participants who now felt much younger and more open. During a 3-hour session, one participant revealed that he began to see everything as exquisitely beautiful and then he’d remember “how painful and … messy it all was” causing him to both laugh and cry.

Whether it comes through a spontaneous insight or a conscious breath, maybe a key to living well is being able to touch what is there, look up from and with our suffering, and see each moment as both exquisitely beautiful and painfully messy.

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