Thursday, November 11, 2010

Make an Offering | Enlightened Motherhood | Yoga Blog | Yoga Journal

Make an Offering | Enlightened Motherhood | Yoga Blog | Yoga Journal

1 comment:

  1. I've been reading two lovely, inspiring books by my first yoga teacher, Ruth Lauer-Manenti, a yogi and artist who teaches yoga at Jivamukti in New York City. Her books, An Offering of Leaves and Sweeping the Dust, are collections of short dharma talks. They're the perfect books to read on the couch while a young child plays with her or his toys in the living room. The normal interruptions (requests for a song on the iPod, to read a book together, do a puzzle, enter the land of make-believe) don't take away from the reading experience, as they might with a novel or more dense non-fiction book.

    Ruth tells a story about bringing a gift of many different kinds of special chocolates to her landlady in Mysore, India, where she studies asana and Sanskrit each summer. The first thing her woman does upon receiving this gift, Ruth writes, is to make a plate with fruits and nuts and a little piece of each and every chocolate bar Ruth has brought. This struck me; upon receiving a precious gift, the landlady turns around and makes an immediate offering.

    I thought about this lesson over the next couple of days. In class, years ago, Ruth taught me about the yogic values of friendliness, non-hoarding, and generosity. Sometimes, though, in the rush of life as a mother and writer, I forget. I get so caught up in my own family's needs, and my home and work to-do lists, that I forget to place a premium on service to others. Or, worse, I have the unattractive but human urge to hoard all the goodies coming my way for my family and me. In my 20's, I worked for non-profit organizations and community centers, and coordinated volunteer programs for low-income kids and seniors in New York. In my early 30's I taught yoga as a volunteer in under-served public schools in Los Angeles. Nowadays, with a child and an every-minute-counts family/work schedule, finding time and energy for service, or seva, can feel overwhelming. If I can't do something "big" right now, could I do anything at all?

    Last night, Lucien volunteered that he'd like to pee on the potty. (Yes!) He gets a sticker for trying, and another for peeing. (If he poops in the potty, he can have the whole sheet!) Lucien choose a drum set sticker and I went into my office for a quick email check. Right away, he came and found me and gave me the cherished new sticker, placing it on my sweatshirt sleeve. Just like Ruth's landlady, he'd offered up his offering. In the process he reminded me how good it feels to both give and receive.

    Maybe, like Lucien, I can start small, offering up pieces of my blessings (my "chocolates") back to those around me. A baby swing loaned to a new mother friend, a gift of homemade soup to a neighbor, a small donation to a local food bank.

    What will you offer up today?

    Jessica Berger Gross is the author of enLIGHTened: How I Lost 40 Pounds with a Yoga Mat, Fresh Pineapples, and a Beagle Pointer (Skyhorse). She lives in Vancouver, British Columbia with her husband and two-year-old son.
    Posted by Jessica Berger Gross on November 10, 2010 2:52 PM | Permalink |