our JFK moments


If you were around to hear the news that the late John F Kennedy had been assassinated, you probably remember what you were doing at the time. It seems to have become a moment frozen in time which has since been much replayed and debated in the media and elsewhere.  Another, more recent occasion was the death of the late Princess Diana. The point I am making here is not the tragedy of both these events, but, rather, that they are examples of significant moments in history, although, for those involved, they clearly had deep and significant personal ramifications.

In our own individual lives, we have our own such moments, which we could perhaps terms “our own JFK moments”: momentous events in our own personal lives, which change our lives forever and which often become frozen in our own history.

Whatever they are, they are just that: moments. They may be joyous or sad, but they deeply affect us in our own lives. What will affect one person may pass another by. These moments may seem seismic to us as individuals, yet small and seemingly insignificant to others. However, they can become hard-wired within us, becoming part of our make-up, creating further thoughts and concerns that potentially do not always serve us well.

Yoga philosophy tells us that we have two tools in life, a body and a mind and it is through these that we experience life. Our mind is but a tool and we are, therefore, individually responsible for how we think.  When we are in the midst of our own significant events, we are often carried along by our thoughts and emotions and it is these that can lead to the emotional scars we end up carrying with us through our lives. The idea that we might exercise a degree of detachment is potentially alien to us.

At times of bereavement or deep personal loss, those offering solace sometimes say that time heals and, in a way, it does, but my experience informs me this is not necessarily helpful to grieving people, who need to process what has happened in their life, express their feelings and find their own way through their grief and out the other side, all in their own time.

I apologise for rambling here. Like all of us, I have my own “JFK moments”. The further I wend my way through life, the more I realise that, although I remember these events and can still access and feel the intensity of such moments, if I choose, they are only memories and feelings from particular moments in my life. That awareness and knowledge of my Self brings choice. I can decide if I wish to be defined by these events or, if I prefer, to choose a different path.

I would suggest that we all have this choice. Living in the present does not mean forgetting the past or ignoring the future. For me, living in the present taking full consideration of the moment can allow us to come to terms with past events in a way that allows us to take their full meaning into our lives and to learn, but to leave the sadness, the negative energy and emotions where they belong: in the past.

We all have one life and, for me, yoga has helped me access levels of self-awareness and self-knowledge that have improved the quality of my life.  If yoga does not yet form part of your life, please be assured this has nothing to do with wrapping your feet around your head or standing on your head (neither of which, incidentally, am I able to do)! It is all about embracing life, which we are all able to do, and this starts with the breath.


© Sarah Swan (October 2016)

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