Seeing The Light in Others Equals Happier Families & Better Relationships

Mom & I, 2007

Mom & I, 2007

My mom’s fight with cancer began when I was 14. She had five, yes, five different bouts, so the concept of mortality was something I was familiar with. I’d grown up with it, fearful of it.

While I thought her death would have been the death of me, too, the opposite happened. I finally began to feel free.

I felt like she was free, and I could stop worrying every time the phone rang. I could stop trying to wish, pray, and hope her to health.

Mom’s M.O. was to not focus on the cancer. She didn’t want to talk about it, linger on it, think about it or give it any power.

The Biggest Waste of Energy

While this could have been an opportunity to look for the good, and shift to an attitude of healing, I believe she was actually in denial. It was no surprise then, that I couldn’t accept it for what it was either.

My mother dying was too big, too scary, and definitely too difficult for me to handle as a teenager. So I wanted to change it. To change her. Only after she was gone did I realize I had been spending most of my energy wanting to fix something beyond my control.

Through those years with mom, I learned that the best we can do for others is to accept them where they are. We can’t change them no matter how bad we want to, and all it does is make us frustrated.

Learning to Live With Paradox

Everyday, I miss her. I still want her to be here. But she’s not. To be truly happy, we need to accept things as they are, and some of those things make us quite sad. Radical acceptance of the moment means accepting everything for what it is, including the deep grief of loss. We can’t close off to what hurts without also being closed off to feelings of joy and elation. It’s one of the great paradoxes of human existence.

What we all want is to be loved and accepted, especially by family. But when people make choices that seem ridiculous, or an eternity away from our own lifestyle, loving them and accepting them as they are is both difficult and uncomfortable. Being able to sit with that discomfort is the mark of a true seeker.

The Festival of Light

Today (October 23rd 2014) marks the first day of the Indian holiday Diwali. For Hindus, the Festival of Light is as important as Christmas is in the west. It’s a celebration of light over dark, good over evil, knowledge above ignorance and hope beyond despair. While I’m not Hindu, nor even religious, yoga tradition stems from the teachings of India where Hindu is prevalent, and there’s something to be learned from it.


Dispelling the darkness on Diwali

When we look beyond the changing form — how people look and the different choices they make — we see harmony, and begin to make the connections that help the Light grow brighter.

Diwali reminds us to look for the good, the Light, or God in others. It’s a time to celebrate family and friends and honor the relationships that matter to us.

Hindus welcome the Goddess Laxmi who stands for wealth and abundance. It’s a practice of gratitude and remembrance of fullness.

Kali, the demon-slaying Goddess, is also honored. She symbolizes the destruction of bad habits like laziness, complaining, thinking negative thoughts, etc…

Enhancing the Light

By practicing asana we go deeper into relationship with ourselves and our bodies. We make healthier choices and act with more skill and awareness. The process reveals our innate inner Light.

The word Light is a metaphor for the unwavering spirit within. You could call it God, Source, Christ-consciousness, or Shakti. In yoga we do whatever we can to align with it in the highest. And when we’re in good alignment, the Shakti flows stronger and the Light is enhanced.

When we know the Light in ourselves, we begin to see it more easily in others. It’s one of the ways we make a difference in the world. We know that there is dark, just as Diwali is on the New Moon. There is illness and death, war and violence, and people who will push our buttons —most of them are in our family! We’re not trying to ignore that, but we are actively seeking the Light and making an effort to have healthy, balanced and authentic relationships.

Here are some things I’ve learned that have helped my relationships and enhanced the Light in my life. Maybe they’ll work for you, too!

  1. Accept people for who they are, don’t try to change them.
  2. Be authentically you, no excuses or hiding.
  3. See the Light in others, especially when they can’t see it for themselves.
  4. Meet others where they are instead of trying to get them to understand you.
  5. Light a candle in remembrance of the inner Light that protects us from spiritual darkness.
  6. Be grateful, and focus on what you have, not what you lack.
  7. Ask for your needs to be met, and make an effort to honor the needs and boundaries of others.
  8. Stop denying the elephant in the room; it’s shitting all over the place.