A Master Teacher. (She's nine).
Her daughter is nine, but they’ve never spoken. Well, not in words really. Though sign language and the over-riding non-verbal language of the heart says everything and more. Her daughter doesn’t speak in words. And at nine-years old, she is clearly here with a mission.
Her name is Mylie.
Mylie has been known to get down and pray when in the presence of a crying child. At just four years old, this first happened when she heard a baby crying in the aisle next to her at the grocery store. Mylie got down on her knees and began to pray. She has an uncanny calling to pray or hug anyone who is in pain. And at five-years old, as she and her mother walked past a homeless man reeking of urine on State Street in Santa Barbara, Mylie stopped and walked straight to him, her arms wide open and hugged him. The look of gratitude in his eyes -- for this human moment of grace -- was everything.
I met Mylie’s mom, Mia at my yoga retreat in Ojai last January and was so moved by her story. She explained to me that her daughter was born with the condition of Down Syndrome. I mentioned to Mia that my friend recently had a child who has Down Syndrome. (I personally had an uncle who also had Down’s). Mia said to me “I'm not sure if your friend has realized this yet, but he has just been given the greatest gift in that child.” Knowing the angst that so many parents go through in wanting to know that their child is born healthy and with “no issues,” I was struck by her sincere appreciation of the gift of Mylie. A child as intuitively guided as India’s spiritual leader and “hugging saint,” Amma. Mylie is fearless, uninhibited and has an enormous capacity for compassion.
Mylie’s mom later confided in me, and this really got me for some reason. She later confided in me that she had taken anti-depressants since she was about 14 years old. She went off of them during her two pregnancies. When Mylie was born, her doctors were concerned this could be really hard for Mia to take. Quite the opposite. When Mylie was born, and she was so sick for so long (in and out of the hospital for two years), Mia’s instinct to protect her daughter, to care for her, to advocate for her took over.
She found a strength she never knew she had. Mia told me “it wasn't that my pain didn't matter anymore, it was that her presence in my life and her need for me to be strong as her mother became my incentive to not only stay away from meds, but find inspiration in my instinct to love her, accept her and be strong for her. She is my master teacher. God has blessed me with a master teacher in my life every day.”
So, what in the world does this have to do with yoga? Again, I go back to the sutras.
The yoga sutras begin by teaching us two important threads in practice. Yoga is now. Being present to what is -- this is the first sutra we learn in the yoga sutras of Patanjali.
In the second sutra, we learn that yoga is the quieting of the chattering mind. In our modern world, I find that acceptance is the answer. Equanimity is the answer. A heart cracked open by a new born with Down Syndrome is the answer. The mind fluctuations can then ride the rhythm of universal love.
This is the practice. Our teachers are everywhere. In the moment of the hug between Mylie and the homeless man, there is a volcanic lesson of humility, love, and grace.
* In no way, am I suggesting that people get off medication when embracing a new challenge in their life. This is one story that happened to move me.