So often we focus on what’s wrong with our life, instead of appreciating the powerful gift of life itself. It’s in those moments of clarity, when we realize the very tenuous nature of life, that our eyes are opened. When you feel down, as my mother taught me, pause. Collect yourself. Look at your strengths, look at your blessings, look at what is right in your life and gather your resources. Stand up. Face your challenges with courage and with what you have. This powerful action shifts your energy upward and super-charges change. Here’s a story that will inspire that strength.
Excerpted from Practice: Wisdom from the Downward Dog
My mother is Japanese; she was born in 1938 and grew up in Japan during World War II and the American occupation. As a six-year-old, she experienced a life-changing event. As city sirens blared warning of the approach of an American air raid, she and her mother were caught in the open—the worst possible scenario. Most others hid in caves or other shelters. Older men served as unofficial city guardians as every fit able-bodied Japanese man was serving in the war effort. One of these elderly men waved at the child who would become my mother and the woman who was her mother to lie in tall grass to hide from passing planes. He lay on top of the girl to protect her. The gunners in the plane shot bullets—rat, tat, tat, tat, tat, tat, tat—at the ground as one so often sees in movies.
After the planes passed, the man did not arise. The girl’s face was crushed into the cold ground beneath her. the woman began screaming and crying. the girl felt the man’s body lifted from her. Before her mother could shield her eyes, she saw his limp, lifeless, bloody body. He had died so that she may live.
At that moment, my mom learned that the time between life and death can be an instant. She could not thank him. He was dead. He was gone. The only way she could repay a stranger who had made the ultimate sacrifice for her was to appreciate her gift of life itself—to live a good and happy life. All she could do to honor him, to respect his good spirit, was to live a full and good life. She taught that lesson to me, since he, too, had made my life possible.
And, that really is the best that we can do to honor our blessing of life. Our choice is never a life with problems versus a life with no problems. The choice is always the life you have, or no life at all.
My mom taught me that it is up to each one of us to use our power to dig deep within—no matter what hardship we face—and create a good, happy and healthy life with the tools and circumstances that we have. She fostered a sense of hope inside of me that was essential to my willingness to heal trauma and to shift my vibration upward.
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