I often say that I am putting all of the amazing nuggets of wisdom that come from my students with brain injuries into my future book and to share on my future Ted Talk. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
Year after year and class after class, I am humbled at the insights that come from people living with brain injuries and feel so strongly that they can teach the world so many things about truly living. Over the years I have kept a little notebook with some of the teachings that they bring to my life and will often pull inspiration from that notebook in my everyday classes or in my personal life.
This one is a keeper.
I have been teaching from the theme of freedom this month. According to Webster’s dictionary, freedom is defined as having the ability to think, speak and act without hindrance or restraint. Teaching adaptive yoga in an assisted living home for adults with traumatic brain injuries often brings the most insights into the true essence of living Yoga. As we broke down each what it means to think, speak and act without hinderance we shared the challenges in our lives it was easy to see that everyone has certain hinderances or restraints that keep them from living fully free. For some, it is living without the ability to move their legs, or for others it is not being able to drive or work. For me although I can drive and work, I have certain physical limitations and responsibilities that keep me from being fully free in my actions.
We then moved onto our ability to speak without hinderance or restraint and it was evident that while the idea of free speech exists, there is a limitation to what we can all say and not get into a little hot water, whether that it within our own home or in the community.
We finished our discussion with the realization that the only true place we have freedom is in our thoughts. We are all free to think what we think and no matter what our challenges or our struggles are, it is ultimately what we do with it through our mindset.
Here is the moment of ah-ha that has stayed in my heart for weeks. As we were closing up our discussion on living freedom, this was spoken:
“The confinement that I feel is only what I ALLOW myself to feel.”
Read that again.
The woman who said this is a student who lives in assisted living and occasionally comes down for yoga. Her body is riddled with pain so her practice is breathing and sharing. She is brave and wise.
She also lost her independence, her family, her ability to work and drive, and basically do the things that feed her soul. And yet she has the insight to see that despite all of her lack of freedoms, she can escape the cage with her thoughts. She is one of the most insightful and grateful people I have ever met.
And to think that I am called the teacher.
Truth is, I am a conduit for their wisdom. I get to be the messenger.