My Grandma passed away eight years ago. And not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and send her my love. I miss her and her gentle nature and infinite love so very much. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time with my grandma when I was growing up. We ate lots of ice cream, she taught me about makeup, and friendships, and we spent so many hours just talking. I learned so much from her about perseverance, strength, courage, compassion, grace, and being brave enough to be authentic. My grandma was such a good person. She taught me about doing for others, without expecting anything in return. She very selflessly loved and gave with all of her heart. She is so many reasons why I am who I am today.
Why am I telling you this? Because I feel like it matters. Because we love and learn and teach and share based on what we loved and learned. And because everything is circular and connected. We are all connected. We are all here together. And much like my grandma shaped me, someone shaped you. Probably several people, just like me. And now you and I are shaping others – and somewhere along that line, our roles are going to cross. And that’s a huge responsibility. So how do we shape and teach and continue to learn, all while trying to do the best we can do? Well, yoga.
Yoga is so much more than beautiful poses. But what does that mean? How do we practice yoga off the mat? There are lots of ways. One of the most fulfilling and easiest ways is by practicing karma yoga. Karma yoga is about doing. Doing, without need or expectation or reward. Without needing someone to thank you. Without needing recognition for your efforts. Just doing and showing kindness for the sake of just that. Without needing to shout it to the world, or get credit for it. Maybe it’s doing something kind in honor of someone. Maybe it’s donating household goods, or delivering flowers to a nursing home, or cleaning a ditch or a park, or something as simple as holding the door or giving a smile. Selfless service. That is karma yoga. Selfless service doesn’t need to be huge. Your heart and intentions just need to be pure.
Saying goodbye to my grandma was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. When I said goodbye, I told her she was the bravest, most kind and amazing person I had ever known. With tears streaming, she pointed at me and as sternly as she could, whispered, no, you are. Twelve short hours later, she had taken her last breath. I truly believe she meant what she said, just like I meant what I said. I owe her so much and am so grateful for her example and selfless love. And I honor her, every day, by showing kindness, and patience, love, compassion, and grace to others. My grandma’s birthday is coming up. And I’ll spend that day selflessly serving, in her name, because she deserves that. And I’ll continue to make a bigger effort to take that with me every day. To teach and lead accordingly, to honor her memory, and to just do it because it’s the right thing to do. Because I want my kids to learn accordingly. Because my grandma’s love and compassion deserve to live on through me, and my kids, and someday their kids, and so on. Because that is yoga.
Yoga means union. We are all united – somehow, someway. By people, experiences, communities, and life. You might not change the world with a single act of selfless service, but you will most certainly make someone’s day better. And something as simple as a smile can absolutely change someone’s world, and that is all it takes to start a chain of change. Being kind, and genuine – it’s contagious. It’s where change starts. Our kids are watching. Our grandkids, our nieces and nephews, our friends, they are all watching. And learning. So please, practice selfless service. Be the example. Like my grandma was for me. It truly makes a difference.