It's So Not About The Mat

If there is a remedy when trouble strikes, what reason is there for despondency? And if there is no help for it, what use is there then in being emotionally undertaken?

- Joel's Facebook Profile Quote (Joel is one of six disabled troops on retreat with us this week on St. John)
Scott and I are hosting six Men on retreat at Florian Villa this week. Their official reason for being here is to complete their SCUBA certification by making open water dives under the supervision of dive masters. But I am so moved by each of their smiles, courage and resilience that I can't help but wonder if the universe brought them to Florian to remind me of my personal Truths. During my moments of self pity or self involvement, I tend to question my Truths, but at this moment, I feel all my Truths:
  • Our bodies and souls can overcome nearly any trauma.
  • Events and circumstances change our path but not our souls.
  • No one is immune from extreme positive or negative events.
  • All we have is this moment.
  • The only constant is change.
  • There are better and worse days ahead.
  • Perspective is a useful state of mind.
I introduced one of the Men to yoga today. After breaking his back in 5 places parachuting out of a plane, he was told 3 months ago that he had a 30% chance of ever walking again. Today he walks with just the assistance of a cane.

Introducing anyone to yoga is an honor and a responsibility. Introducing this Man was a blessing for me, and the experience brought me back to my Truths.

This Man moved his spine, ever-so-gently in easy twisting movements; he bent and straightened his partially paralyzed legs in the air, moving with his breath; he practiced sphinx; and he took a long savasana with a lavender eye pillow. His body and his mind went places and came back to places they'd never been or hadn't been for a while.

It so didn't matter what brand of mat he was lying on, what "type" of yoga we "did", or whether he was wearing the latest men's shorts style for practicing yoga in the Caribbean. In fact, it didn't matter that the weather was 78 and sunny and that there was a beautiful view of St. Thomas and the water.

What did matter was that this Man, who served our country for 13 years in the Army and now will be discharged for medical reasons, opened his mind to yoga....and his body and his mind (he told me) felt good....for just a few moments today.

The 5 amazing Men in the picture are our guests at Florian this week (Joe, Joel, Shane, Gilberto, and George. Greg is not in the picture). Each served in the US Military, most recently in the Middle East and was wounded in combat. Most of them are missing limbs, but they are whole in my eyes, perhaps more so than many people I know with unscathed bodies. Each has a spirit as large as the universe and ferocious determination to heal.

I am grateful to know each of these Men and for the yoga practice they have given me this week.

Namaste, gentlemen.


Anonymous said...

What a beautiful thing!! Absolutely love this post.

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful thing!
I absolutely love this post.
They ALL look so happy, thank you for sharing.


Suzann said...

Wonderful and beautiful! Yoga can touch the lives of so many and, in return, those who share it are equally moved. Thank you!

Yoga With John said...

Noble work, thanks so much for sharing with us.

If there's any way I can help support/help publicize your work
please let me know.


Kathryn said...

What a wonderful and inspiring post! It's so great when new people come to yoga and it works and the energy is positive. It reinforces the experience of yoga as not only a personal thing but a community thing as well.

Anonymous said...

They looked liked they had a great time. I heard there that you were going to do some work with disable Marines yoga work and Scott was going to set them up with Scuba and they were going down in December of 09 to both. Can you elaborate?