Wisdom in an Old Wood FloorMay 17, 2023
I recently had the privilege of spending a few days at a serene Quaker retreat center, which is approaching its centenary. While not my personal tradition, I found myself thoroughly nurtured by my time there.
Every aspect of the center - the grounds and facilities, as well as the kind and helpful volunteers - helps to foster an atmosphere conducive to inward reflection and spiritual learning.
During a reflective moment, nestled in a cozy corner of the Main House, my gaze settled upon the weathered wooden floor of the room. The floor was probably part of the original structure built in the 1930s. It was clearly well-maintained and cared for, yet it bore the marks of age.
I thought about the multitude of individuals who had traversed those very floorboards before me. While their lives undoubtedly unfolded in different circumstances, they were also seekers on a spiritual path. They were likely grappling with similar questions and engaging in at least some comparable practices.
I felt supported by their unseen presence as I envisioned them, like me, dedicated to a path that affords meaning and purpose in an often confusing and messy world.
This is an awareness that can support us in our yoga practice as well. Each time we settle onto our mat or cushion, we can remember the generations of students, teachers, and seekers who have come before us.
You can do this by taking a moment to honor your own teachers and the communities that shaped you as a practitioner. Furthermore, you can acknowledge the broader community of yogis and yoginis whose practices have formed the well-trodden path that you step onto each time you undertake your practices.
As we explore postures and exercises that are perhaps modern-day creations, we can recognize that we are linked to so many others - both past and present - through a shared intention that’s woven through the yoga tradition.
Even if our practice unfolds in solitude, we can find solace and support in knowing that we are not alone in our quest. We can be buoyed by the knowledge that we are part of a continuum, standing on the shoulders of those who have walked these same floors before us, and those who walk alongside us now.