Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poetry that Inspires - what is it telling you? Listen with the ear of the heart.

I've recently been scrutinizing an emotion inside of me which has affected how I perceive the challenges I'm faced with at work - my day job - not teaching yoga, but advocating, educating, and providing organic produce to my community as a not-for-profit natural food cooperative's produce buyer. It doesn't pay much and it's part time, but I am devoted to supporting healthy lifestyles and being a part of the organic whole foods community which supports sustainability = shopping and eating local and organic (and in bulk) whenever possible. Since my days as a URI college student when I first began to make my own food purchases, I've been a working member of this cooperative; that's since the early 80's.

Granted, I am extremely grateful to have a job, but what a drag, when I feel a lack of respect among a few of the people I work with. I must not be respecting myself, for this to be occurring. So I ponder... why don't I utilize more of my skills and practice my yoga off the mat... why do I work with heart, yet feel that my heart is squandered there? After all, I am the captain of my own Soul.

I recently watched the movie Invictus starring Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela. The film tackles the challenges that faced South Africa in 1995, when newly elected President Mandela had the enormous task of inspiring a nation to forget their past (which was irrevocably stained by aparthaid's violent hatreds and isolationism), and to instead let go of revenge and forgive the oppressiveness befelled by their fellow countrymen. President Mandela from his first days in office looked forward with pride knowing that this nation of individuals, blacks and whites, could become united under one flag, one national anthem, and one encouragable Rugby team; a team which with President Mendala's encouragement represented the country's will to change, and determination to excell beyond expectations.

I think of how minor my challenges are compared to what the South African people faced. The poem that inspired President Mandela to persevere while in prison for over 27 years, also inspired the South African Springbok Rugby team captain to accept the possible; that poem, Invictus, has been presented to me as well via the film and oddly coincidentily in a piece on NPR today.

In every circumstance we must recognize that are own thoughts, words and actions can change our perceptions and our realities. I know that when I gracefully align my life with my highest aspirations for myself, and with the grace of universal goodness that flows within me and throughout, then I can live a life more worthy of what my spirit and soul has to offer. It's up to me to feel better at work, and no one else's actions can change that. It's up to me to respectfully grow beyond what is seemingly bringing me down, because ultimately it is my own misgivings and perceptions of what ails me, that only I can accept and then let go of. Only I can change my story and create the life I want to lead.

Nelson Mendala's spirit was continually uplifted when he recited to himself this old English poem, Invictus, written in 1875 by English poet, William Ernest Henley. Read the poem yourself, just as the captain of the South African Rugby Team did when his President shared it with him. Let the ear in your chest speak to your soul and renew your courage and spirit to go beyond who you are today, with more acceptance and willingness to grow.

Invictus Poem

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds and shall find me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Invictus Poem by William Ernest Henley.

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