As some of you may have heard, my father passed away on March 22 in Montreal after a struggling with a long history of heart disease and diabetes. I flew to my hometown last minute to be there along with my 4 siblings who came together from all over the globe.
It has been quite an intense process so far, but also a good one. In the jewish tradition, we sit “shiva’ which means seven – for the seven days of mourning that children observe for their parents. In these seven days, we sit on the floor, we do not shower, do not leave the house and are not suppose to even serve ourselves to eat. Visitors from the past are invited to come and sit with us. We are invited to talk about the deceased and are forced to deal with the discomfort of sitting with our family and all the different personalities that we have grown up with.
Going through this process makes a lot of sense to me. It was the first time in over 14 years that all my siblings have been together and were not chasing after children or running around town entertaining one another. We were forced to sit together day after day and talk. In this process, we became closer. We looked at old photos, talked about the difficulties we had with our parents, cried and laughed and held hands working on forgiving each other and my father for all of our limitations.
Without this ritual, we would have all come for the funeral and then gone our separate ways, holding onto the grief, sorrow and pain which would inevitably rise up at some point either emotionally or physically. That is not to say that we are done grieving. It is a process that I see will continue in many different stages and forms. But at least we had the opportunity to deal with the initial stages together. This is a time I will cherish forever.
In Yoga, we practice asana (postures) in order to prepare our bodies and our minds for the task of sitting still. Sitting quietly and observing our thoughts for a few minutes is often A LOT harder than a vigorous 2 hour Yoga practice (those of you who have a meditation practice know what I am talking about!). When we sit still, we have to deal with all the uncomfortable feelings and thoughts that arise and have the fortitude to avoid running away.
This is the real work of Yoga. In this process, we invite all our shadows to the surface and observe them knowing that they are not us, they are simply part of our conditioning. We do not have hope of changing our patterns if we are not wiling to take a long, close look at what is really driving us. This is the key in becoming less reactive and cultivating more peace and harmony with yourself and others.
So sit still a little bit every day. And just listen. Quiet the noise so you can hear the whisper of your heart.