Starting a new day with a yes to our inner experiences takes a lot of courage. Tara Brach, a clinical psychologist, lecturer, teacher of Buddhist mindfulness meditation, and author, explains in her book “Radical Acceptance” many ways of sending the message of yes to our inner life. She says a message of acceptance is sent by gently placing a hand on the heart. Another way is to visualize oneself bringing her palms together and bowing to what has appeared: anxiety, anger, guilt or any negativity that is hard to accept. Thich Nhat Hanh’s “smile yoga” teaches that one can embrace anything with a simple smile that surfaces to our lips. When practiced many times throughout the day in this way, “it can nourish awareness and calm you miraculously”, writes Thich Nhat Hanh.
Saying yes to yet another day of patient waiting and savoring the sacredness of life is not so hard for me these days. I have learned over time to simply be present with a welcoming heart at every dawn of the day. For me, it meant showing up to my yoga mat for asanas and meditation. It meant kneeling in front of the Cross bringing with me a prayerful heart. Now it means turning on the switch to activate my essential oil diffuser and opening the Bible. Whatever arises in my heart, I now accept it as a part of me. It is whatever God chooses to bringing up because it simply needs to be worked on to reach the likeness of Christ. It’s a disciplinary process, purification and sanctification. It’s a journey of a believer.
The key is to be consistent, to show up every single day even if it means one minute of praying or a paragraph written badly with a great effort. Whatever it is you believe yourself to be – to be a writer, to be happier, or, simply to be healed – you must be diligent with your efforts. Every day counts. Every day of your life that you said a simple yes despite the fear and confusion to accept the assignment of the day counts.
Norman Allan is a renowned, controversial Ashtanga yoga teacher who offers free practices on Big Island. His rules are simple. Show up every day when there is a practice. They are free to attend unless you skip the class. He charges when you don’t come to the practice. As a yoga practitioner and a long time devotee of spirituality, Allan knows something crucial about climbing the ladder of the highest ideal, a spiritual awakening. My Bikram yoga teacher on the island used to say, “even if you have no energy left, even if you don’t feel like it, just come to the mat and rest in savasana”. His words were especially comforting and guilt-vanishing because I often felt like I had no energy left and just didn’t feel like it. I felt like dying and ending my life. And so, I showed up, to my praying place in front of the Cross, to my yoga mat, to my writing desk, to my day job, to my paddle practices, to my run and to my cycling. I showed up as best as I can.
Looking back, I have been engaged in so many activities, some in the name of training and practicing, as if those words would give them some magic spell to heal. And maybe they were healing. I showed up and continued my battles until it all boiled down to only one thing: praying and gripping cross as my last life line. Even though my praying life is less of a battle and more of a relaxation and comfort, praying is still as intense and important. It is so easy to bypass the morning prayers during the peaceful periods, I have discovered. Then something painful will occur that will draw me back to my prayerful life. Again and again, I was painfully reminded that every day counts, and not a single day must go without keeping this commitment to prayers through which the connection with God is maintained.
The spiritual journey may be long and dreary. It may feel abrupt and torturing at times. The common analogy of passing through the fiery furnace may well be the best way to describe the spiritual work. Not many succeed it, and even those who succeeded fall back into the old ways and must climb again. You have to keep trying, keep showing up, be consistent and diligent. A little yes, a little smile, a slight bowing to the inner experiences of anxiety, fear, anger, depression, and suffering day by day opens a pathway of least resistance and much abundance. And then… only then, you will finally reach the day when you feel safe and strong enough to let your heart soar. You will soar on wings like eagles, and will not grow weary. You will walk and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31). You will finally get up from the tomb and walk out of the cave. You will experience rising with the Risen Christ.