Yesterday, I was crying hot, constant tears that I did not know were present within me. I was sitting in a church pew morning the loss of a mentor and friend, and a great teacher Peter Mosher. Since moving to Maryland, Peter has been an amazing guide teaching me so much about the practice of meditation and how to live a contemplative life. Being in his presence often felt like entering an ancient forest -- a sense of wisdom and kindness permeated and I felt comforted.
Sitting in the pew listening to the choir sing “Wanting Memories” while I stared at his picture, I had the thought that crying must be a liquefying of something solid that lives deep inside of me. While still solid, this thing holds tightly to everyone and everything I’ve ever loved. When transformed and released as tears maybe my tight grip on this love will ease ever so slightly. This solid thing is large - the tears are plentiful.
This year, I’ve been asked to return to feeling loss and grief many times over. These are feelings that usually seem distant for me until October hits and I watch the leaves fall. I remember autumn of 2010. That year, I moved from my home in Atlanta up to Maryland and, in the process, I felt the loss of the teacher who first opened my eyes to the depth of yoga and the sacred practices therein. Along with losing her presence, I lost a community that supported my growth and encouraged me to think bigger -- to remember I am more than this body with a set history. I am of something that has been around and will be around indefinitely.
In feeling that I lost my teacher 8 years ago, a gift was born. I slowly learned that my breath could be my teacher. Without the voice and the calming presence of my teacher in the same room with me, I found a new way to tap into peace. Listening to my breath - voiceless, but speaking each time I breathed in and each time I breathed out - I began to learn and grow again.
As Peter’s service went on, the pastor shared one of their last conversations together. When asked what sources were sustaining him through his year-long journey of chronic pain, Peter offered this wisdom: “It may sound simple, but my breath.” Given all of the study, practice, and exploration that Peter had done into Sufism, Buddhism, Kundalini Yoga, Tai Chi and many other faiths and practices, his Pastor concluded succinctly that in the end, the ultimate source of Peter’s strength came from within.
As Peter’s Memorial service concluded, a message that continues to sit with me emerged from a poem offered by another student of his. This student credited Peter for saving her life when she was experiencing the loss of her husband and an enormous mountain of grief. The parting words of this poem were: “Love doesn’t die. People do. When all that’s left is love, give it away.”
I think part of my purpose for being here is to give away these teachings. I’d like to give away this solid thing that lives inside of me, not as tears, but as teachings. In this month’s meditation, I offer a simple practice to connect you with breath. A simple practice to remind you of what is inside of you that can teach you in the midst of loss and in the midst of grief, that some things never die.
NOTE: This recording is 15 minutes long and includes instruction in altered patterns of breathing. There are long pauses and silence within the recording for you to focus on your breath. Remember to return to normal breathing if you feel any discomfort or strain with the given practice, you will still receive benefits.
Hannah has been a student of yoga and meditation since 2003 and a practitioner of Ayurveda since 2013. She spent a decade teaching yoga classes and yoga teacher trainings throughout the metro-DC area. In August of 2019, she left full-time teaching to pursue a two-year Masters degree in Speech Language Pathology at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She intends to combine yoga, meditation, and Ayurveda into speech therapy sessions with those struggling to share their voices. While she does not currently teach regular classes, you can study with her online through Insight Timer.