The Purpose of Life Is to Discover Your Gift.
The Meaning of Life Is to Give Your Gift Away.
His eyes sparkle with a captivating glint of joy. He listens well, and is not afraid of the silence. His laugh is hearty and he uses it liberally. He is patient, he is wise, he is kind. He is a man who has lived a life of adventure, and a life of seeking truth. And to be his student is one of my life’s greatest honors.
When you are in the company of someone who is living their Dharma (truth/life’s purpose) the whole world just seems lighter. I’m returning from a 7 day Yoga Therapy Group Facilitator Training, where I was blessed to sit at the feet of my teacher for an entire week. I want to introduce you to Michael Lee, the founder and director of Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy and share a few of the wisdom bombs he dropped into my lap.
This guy has been at it for a long time. His was one of the first yoga therapy schools to form in the US, over 30 years ago, long before it was “a thing”. He has a passion for the transformational work that is available if we can just get into our bodies, listen to our breath, and allow the mind to be still. What a gift that in a season of life that might invite one to slow down, Michael still chooses to take the seat of the Teacher, and to share his knowledge, this time with a small group of advanced yoga therapy students. Some highlights that stand out for me:
- “Love and fear are the two sides of the same coin. In any moment, we get to choose. Am I acting out love, or am I acting out of fear?” Michael seems to embody this philosophy. I observed several instances where small things happened and he chose love. It shows up in his eye contact, in his listening, in the way he greets people and leaves them. He is choosing love. Always, and in all ways.
- “Teachers can’t do the work for their students. It’s not our job. Our job is to build the scaffolding that allows the students to do their own building, using their own life and experience as tools.” That was a truth bomb for me. I am a pleaser and a fixer. Come to me with any ailment and I will try hard to help you find the answers. But this statement has changed me. My job is to create the container where YOU can do the work of changing what needs to be changed. You are not broken, your body is just trying to teach you something. I will build the scaffolding, and create a space for your work. And I will do my best to get out of the way and let the real teacher…teach.
- “Transformation happens when there’s a mismatch between a lived experience…and our past beliefs.” Isn’t that the truth? Michael spoke about our brains’ attempt to pull information from the past and use it to project what we need to be worried about in the future. So the moments of being present are rare, and we have to work to create them. We live most of our lives from the viewpoint of our past beliefs. Some of them our own, many of them planted in us long ago. Our work is to find the moments of “here and now” where our truth sits. In the moment, I feel nothing but peace and contentment. That is in disagreement with a past belief that I have to be moving, getting things done in order to find peace and happiness. The mismatch points me to transformation! So simple, yet so profound.
- “You can’t get from here to there unless you know where HERE is. Being here allows you to trust the inner compass that guides you.” After spending a week finding ‘here’ I get it. I just hope I can keep coming back to here, trusting my inner compass to reset, to point me to what’s most important. I have a feeling it’s going to be harder to do that as I jump back into the crazy that is my life. Work in progress for sure.
- “Life is made up of moments. And moments are fleeting.” Michael left us in tears at the end of the week with this insight. He said something like “When this life is over, and I get on that last bus leaving town, I hope I have left something of value”. You have Michael. You have. Thank you for finding your gift, and for so graciously and generously giving it away.