Last night I taught yoga at the women's shelter. They always thank me profusely for coming, as though I am the one doing the favor, as though I am the one doing the giving. Last night I was given a card signed by the staff, and chocolates.
What they don't know, what they cannot know, is how deeply I receive on Thursday nights. How I am filled and that I return to this moment in time and space to remember who I am, what has happened in my life, why I do everything I do, and what matters the most.
Two mamas came to the candlelit class. Their babies were in the next room, another volunteer watches the children while we do yoga. We could hear them laughing, asking questions, playing through the walls.
"How does your body feel?" I asked both women, before we began.
I heard them say, "tired," "old," "failing me," "overweight," "exhausted," and "I came to yoga tonight because I know I need to move, but I kind of just want to lay here for an hour and breathe and look at the ceiling."
So we breathed together gently and felt for our heartbeats. "Your heart can detect the other heartbeats around you and it begins to mimic them," I heard myself say.
We envisioned the tiny muscles all up and down our spines. We imagined them as connected directly to our belly buttons. We felt them working to hold us steady as we moved slowly, mindfully, with so much self-reverence and respect. We stayed close to the ground. Every so often we paused to feel our heartbeats again.
Savasana was fifteen minutes long. As the class ended, the doors opened and their little ones poured in, vibrant and energetic. "Mama! Look!"
They had little Valentine's Day bags of presents and candies they'd been given. They were eager to show me, too. I sat there on my knees for several minutes, taking in the entire scene. Happy children. Relaxed (for a moment) mamas. There was so much love. More love that I have been physically close to for weeks now. It nearly brought me to tears except that my smile was so huge.
We are all in this mess together. All of us. If you remember one thing this Valentine's Day, let it be this: Your heart is connected in a very real and visceral way to everyone else on the planet.
If you're lucky enough to be with someone you love on Sunday, feel for it and notice how awesome it is. If you're not, please know that all you have to do is head to a coffee shop, or a yoga class, or a bookstore, or a playground, or nature, and witness. Close your eyes and feel your heartbeat. It's connected. We all are.