What Made My Heart Sing this Valentine's Day?
CJ was a regular participant in one of my yoga classes from the very first time I taught it. She has remained steady through two format changes, rarely missing a week in more than a year. Her practice is beyond beautiful and she has a light about her that is contagious and uplifting.
About this time last year, CJ showed up to class alone for the first time. Previously, she and her boyfriend came to class together. She seemed a bit distracted on that day, but once the practice began, she slipped into her present-mindedness. The theme of the class was love through the eyes of children. I noticed, several times throughout class, that she was tearing up. It is not uncommon for people to cry in my yoga classes; my goal is for the participants to experience a range of motion and emotion in every class. However, this theme was innocent and sweet and funny, at times, and I was surprised that it could bring a student to tears, though I do, indeed, fully understand that we never know what someone else is living and how things will affect them.
At the end of savasana, CJ's quiet tears turned to sobs. I leaned over and hugged her. For a long time, she said nothing. We sat in silence, holding one another. Finally, and without letting go of me, she explained to me that her husband and young son had died in a horrific accident. My theme reminded her of her son's innocence and the love they all shared as a family. Further, she and the boyfriend had parted ways, and she was feeling incredibly alone during a time when love is in the air and celebrated.
CJ and I began to communicate more regularly after that. We talked about the need for us all to find our own way through the toughest of times, and the strength we possess to move ever onward. Her story is a good reminder that the human spirit is stronger than anything that can happen to it. Ultimately, CJ asked for my advice on yoga teacher training and I encouraged her to seek out a 200-hour program, which she did, and, not surprisingly, she has been forever altered by the experience. Though she likes to credit and thank me for inspiring her to go through teacher training, this was truly a gift she gave to herself, because when we are ready, the teacher appears.
CJ came to class as usual this last week and, in keeping with tradition, I pulled out my Kids' Views of Love theme. Before starting, I had background music on... it just happened to be a playlist I put together after the Newtown tragedy... a theme of compassion and healing. I glanced at CJ and noticed the tears welling up in her eyes. I leaned down to hug her and she whispered that the song that was currently playing had been played at "their" funeral. I knew to whom she was referring. I confess that I got moist-eyed as well, remembering that it was this class last year that brought her to tears for the first time in that studio. I whispered to her that the waterworks might get worse throughout class. With her signature, radiant smile, she responded with a resounding "Oh GREAT!".
And so we sun saluted, we heart opened and we flowed. We found more strength than we knew we had and we let go into poses that remind us that yoga is a union of opposites and that surrendering is an act, not something that happens to us. I closed the class, as I always do, with a reminder about taking our yoga off the mat. My final thoughts had to do with a child's quote about telling people you love them frequently so they don't forget... my statement to my students was "Don't let them forget."
As class ended, I glanced over at CJ. The tears were back and I was there immediately with my hug. She shared with me that "I love you" was the last thing she said to both her husband and her son. I simply said "good". I also reminded her that they knew she loved them, and that she, too, knows how much they loved her, every second of every day.
Later in the day I received a note from CJ thanking me for the class and explaining how she connected with various aspects of it. However, what truly made my heart sing was that at the end of her note she told me that she had already told two important people today that she loves them... and then added, "make that three... I love you, Cranky Princess."
This is why I do what I do. This is worth far more than the corporate salary from which I walked away and the immeasurable satisfaction I get from sharing these moments with these beautiful souls, being inspired in ways I never knew were possible is, indeed priceless. My heart is full. And singing.