Past, Future, Afterlife, and Now.

Sylhet Sunset, Bangladesh 2007

Why do we constantly look back and ponder, wonder and ask why?…Why do we constantly look forward and think what if, could be, maybe, hopefully…

Are we scared to stop and be within , to embrace the now, the breath and just have faith, hope, prayers and most importantly love?…Love for the Self, the spirit.  If we don’t have love for the Self then what chance is there to share and love for others?

Is it fear stopping us? Fear of what? – Ourselves, fear of others, fear of vulnerability, fear from taking a look inside the mind or all of the above? Or perhaps in all honestly fear of not being able to breath properly or at all.

As a Yoga and Pilates Teacher I am constantly nagging students, and to be honest anyone who listens, how to breathe…properly

For the last few weeks I have been going through a stage of not catching my breath, and I believe this is my fear of not being able to love within.

Recently, and as morbid and morose as it may sound, I have been thinking about death – not because I am scared of it, just curious in a supported way.

Being brought up with eastern philosophies death is very much part of our life. I was eight when I first went to Bangladesh and stayed at my grandfather’s village in Fenchuganj (Sylhet). We were the only Muslim household surrounded by Hindu families and it was here that we were faced by death in its starkest , purest, rawest form. When a Hindu being passes they are cremated on the funeral pyre and the Atman (Spirit) is taken to the next stage of life.

The first time I witnessed  this the smell was profound, disgusting, and I was very scared. A couple of years ago death become much closer when my close friend’s mother passed. As a Muslim we believe that as soon as a person dies, we try to put the body back into the Earth from where we came as soon as possible, the quicker the better so the body no longer suffers and can find solace and peace in Mother Earth.

My friend’s mum was a wonderful kind lady who despite her illness always had the time and compassion to ask how I felt, how my parents are and if everything was OK. She she was suffering dreadfullywith her pain and lack of mobility yet her eyes always shone with love and kindness. She was loved deeply by her children and grandchildren and it was one of her daughters (my close friend) who nursed and cared for her throughout her life.

When she passed, my friend and I, along with two of her grandchildren with the aid of 2 Muslim ladies ‘prepared” her body before it went to rest in Earth. We were shown how to bathe the body with clean scented water. It was my first real experience of a dead body, but strangely it was comforting, awakening and oddly reassuring that she will be OK. The body was still warm as she had only passed a few hours beforehand and I had enormous admiration and love for my friend taking part in the cleaning. I asked if she wanted to do it and she replied “I bathed my mum when she was ill and I would like to bathe her one last time before she rests”.

My friend has lost her mum and she can never be replaced and it got me to appreciate what I have, how grateful I am to have a mum as wonderful as mine, she is a true yogi, my Mother Earth and is filled with unconditional love. She has been helping me recently deal with life and death and I guess in a way it has all lead me to think about my friend’s mum  (may she rest in peace), her death and has made me determined to try to help myself love again and find stillness in this life.

Like all people, this year I have been through all sorts;  good and bad;  dukkha with sukkha (sorrow and joy) although it has been a bit more of sorrow rather than joy.

I have been stressing about  life and work, pondering about all the things I should have done and not being able to find comfort and love when I have been in my yoga practice . Why …because the ego has kept labelling, wanting, needing, grasping, attaching.  But that’s what I need to sort out…stop feeling guilty, acknowledge what has been done, what needs to be done and somehow, with breath, faith and love everything it will all be alright.

Happy Present Day