My mom has definitely been the most influential person in my life. From the time I was young, she would tell me to “eat dessert first”. At the time, she would rationalize in a joking way that it was in case I got full or in case I died before I finished my meal. Now I understand this suggestion to be less practical and more of a lesson in being present. She always promotes doing the things you love NOW. Enjoy life and all that it entails. Bring light and love and laughter to all that you encounter and it will return to you 100 fold. As I would dare to argue in my most Capricorn of ways, that eating desert first may not be the most prudent or healthy choice, she would effortlessly offer the fact that everything I put in my body, if done with love, reverence and gratitude is of benefit to it. I believe now that this is true. As I bless my food before each meal, I thank the universe and nature for the offering and I accept it into my body with an open heart and as a mindful expression of health and healing. The vibration that resonates in this blessing is one that I can feel as my body gratefully digests the molten chocolate lava cake, and transmutes it into light that harmonizes with the glowing light that already resides inside me. Working with the amazing energy of food this way has given me great pleasure in all that I ingest and has shown me how to be present with and grateful for that which is.
This is just one example of the way in which my mom has inspired me. Another example I always come to remember is my mom’s motto…”Choose Joy”. I don’t think she named me Cynthia JOY by accident. She is a constant example of living life in a Joyful way. Regardless of what may come, she always says that you can still choose Joy. It doesn’t mean you can’t feel sadness or anger or other feelings that may seem contrary to Joy, but instead it is the knowing that even in the midst of those feelings and experience, Joy remains. It is our innate state of being and one which we only need to remember to come back to. It always exists within. How do we tap into that state of being during times of struggle? Again, it is simply a choice. Why not see everything in your life as a blessing? Why not experience Joy in every moment possible? It is a practice of remembering to choose it. One of my favorite author’s, Jon Kabat-Zinn, says that even as a teacher of Mindfulness Meditation he often forgets to be mindful. He may be sitting at the dinner table with his daughter who is enthusiastically talking about her day at school and he may be half listening while, in his mind, planning his lecture for the following day. Even in those moments, when he catches himself not being present, he says the best part about the forgetting to be mindful, is the remembering. I think the same is true for being Joyful. As soon as we notice that we are not seeing beauty and relevance in all that exists around us, it is our opportunity to remember to “Choose Joy”. The more we catch ourselves and come back to Joy, the more often we find ourselves in a Joyful state. The gaps between these moments become smaller, and soon we are living a life of Joy. This is how I see my mom….living a life of Joy…by choice.
One of my favorite times of the year is when my mom comes to visit me at Present Moment. It is surprising that she doesn’t live here and that she didn’t create this place because so much of her is here even when she is not. When she is visiting, we have a bit of a ritual of getting ready for dinner together, deciding what to wear (her trying to convince me to wear high heels in the sand), putting on makeup, standing on the toilet to make a full length mirror out of the bathroom mirror. Stuff like that…total mother-daughter quality time. I think the difference between us and most mothers and daughters is that when we are looking at ourselves in the mirror, we are usually commenting on how cute we are. My mom always points to herself adoringly and says “look how cute I am”. I wish I could use the inflections of her voice in my writing here because it is clearly not from an egoic place but from one of truth and appreciation. As she smiles and flips her hair, she sees herself as her divine self…the Goddess that she is. She is truly AMAZING….physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. She tells me a story of when she was a little girl. She would see her mother looking in the mirror saying to herself that she was fat and plain. My mom believed her and grew up thinking that her mother was fat and plain…not because she was, but because it was the message her mother passed on to her. She knew then that if she had a daughter she would tell her how cute and adorable her mama is so that her daughter would grow up thinking her mama is cute and adorable…well, it worked! Even if my mom wasn’t as cute as she is, I think I would believe that she was since that is what she has told me all of my life. In fact, since the time I was about 4 years old, people would ask me “how did you get so cute?” My mom had taught me to answer “because my mom is so cute”. Nice work mama! I will be sure to do the same if I ever have a child. Why not? We are what we believe we are. As she says, “what we think about we bring about”.
To understand my mom’s outlook on life all you have to do is ask her how she is. If you do, she will likely answer…”perfect”! This is something, I must admit, that I didn’t fully understand growing up. I mean really, who is perfect? As kids, it is certainly not our parents, right? However, if I questioned my mom about her response (even in challenging times), she would explain, “How could I not be perfect? If all that happens is in perfection and I am a part of that perfection then I am perfect.” As stated in the Upanishads and taught by my teacher, Yogiraj:
This perfection is that perfection.
From that perfection comes this perfection.
If this perfection is taken from that perfection, perfection alone remains.
Therefore, I see that there is nothing that is not a part of the perfect whole. We are a microcosm of the macrocosm. Our perfection is a reflection of the greater perfection and cannot deplete or change the perfection of all that is. So why not see ourselves as divine, perfect beings? My mom does….it is her truth…and it works.
Just last week, my mom attended the visitation for our beloved Yogiraj who just passed away in June. As I am in Mexico and the funeral was in Minneapolis, I was grateful that she was able to attend and offer her love and respect on our behalf. During the weekend of the services, she shared with me how touching the speeches were and the many heartfelt expressions and radiating comments about Yogiraj and his life. She said in listening to how much he was loved, it made her realize something. At this point, I was sure she was going to say that it is important for us to make sure to tell the ones we love how much we love them while they are still alive. But of course, in my mom’s unique way, she was able to turn it around and bring it back to her “it’s all about me” philosophy. For her, the ceremony illuminated the importance of knowing how much you are loved in this lifetime. She told me it is important to think about those who love you and to recognize how much we are loved…know it, feel it, hear it from others, now…while you are still alive. I have been so blessed to grow up with such a positive influence in my life and there is not a day that goes by that I don’t feel great love for my mom and recognize my mom’s great love for me. How lucky am I?
I want to thank my adorable mother for these brilliant life lessons. So mom, in your honor, I will continue to eat desert first, choose Joy, know how cute I am, recognize the perfection in all that is (including myself) and I will always know and love how much you love me!
LOVE LIGHT and LAUGHTER,