The surprising teachings of a birthday cake
It was just my birthday. And I love birthdays. But this one was different. It was a bit of a rollercoaster of emotions. As I like to do, I reflect on challenging situations and see what I can learn from it. It was a reminder on how we are conditioned. First condition I realized was on how birthdays should look like. Here in Denmark they bring a Danish flag (or many) to celebrate a birthday. In Germany where I am from, this would be unthinkable. We do have a birthday cake with a candle(s) though, so you can have a wish. So I was longing for this cake with my candle. And this condition was making me sad a couple of times in my life when I didn’t get my candle. It is just so crazy how powerful these conditions can be and influence our happiness. When we really think about it, it is the teaching of aparigraha (one of the yogic foundational guidelines to live a life free of suffering) which means non-attachment.
“Detachment is not that you don’t own nothing.
Detachment means that nothing owns you.”
– Bhagavad Gita
It did own me, it made me sad, when I didn’t had my cake. Before my birthday was over I did get my cake, and I got an even more important lesson on attachment and conditioning, which I am very grateful for. It also taught me, that not getting a birthday card or a cake, doesn’t mean people don’t care for you. Living abroad with international friends and a partner from a different culture really taught me so much about what we think is normal and really is just our programming. So moving away from assuming this is how things should be and embracing things on how they are. This is where true happiness lies. When we can be content in any given situation. And yes, it’s damn hard work to understand our conditioning and how it makes us suffer. But hey, yoga is here to help!
The second thing I reflected on is age. Maybe you have heard me say, I cannot wait to turn 40 (why I say that you can ask me next time you see me 😉 ). But turning 38 was weird.
I felt like I am behind. Starting my current career when I was already 32. There is still so much I want to achieve, like founding my own yoga teacher school (which is actually already in the making). I feel like I have to move faster to make up for the time, that I started late in life. But there isn’t really any catching up to do. Spiritual development cannot be rushed. For teaching for only 5 years, I managed to accumulate a good foundation of theory and experience in different fields. Speaking out that thought of feeling old, around an older person yesterday, she reflected some wisdom on me. The only time she felt like this was when reflecting on what she cannot do anymore like becoming a ballet dancer. Yeah, maybe not a professional one, but she could probably still learn how to dance. I always wanted to be a model, when I was a teen, I finally achieved that dream when I was 30.
And then I thought, what is it that I cannot do anymore because of my age? The first thing that came up was, well I am not getting a work and travel visa for Australia anymore 😀 . But that was it. I have a healthy well functioning body and mind. And yes, our bodies are aging, and I am grateful for the useful tools I learned in my menopause teacher training on how to keep our bodies functioning well for a long time to come. I don’t feel there is anything I cannot do. I just changed my career completely 5 years ago. Who says, we cannot do that again and again? It’s our conditioning. We are not supposed to reinvent ourselves and live lives out of the ordinary. This conditioning has nothing to do with our capabilities. And yoga really taught me so much about understanding and living our full potential and I am so grateful for this.
(And let me get this clear, yes, there are limiting factors in everyone’s life, age, physical and mental health, race, gender, responsibilities etc. but which do we use as an excuse for our development and which are truly stopping us? And if there are things we cannot change, we come back to teaching number one, accepting and taking it from there.)
Last but not least, a powerful teaching for everyday that I would like to share with you.
We do not know how much time we got left.
We simply don’t. We can take so well care of ourselves and we could still leave our physical bodies before the life expectancy that our society suggest. But we can also live well beyond it. We just don’t know. So is something ever too late or too soon? We don’t know. If your heart is longing for something. Go for it. Why wait? Instead of worrying about starting my career late, I choose to be grateful that I have found my purpose. And I choose to live each day to its fullest (at least I am trying).
The best (birthday) present is to be present.
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