I recently travelled to teach on a yoga and meditation retreat at Dhanakosa in Scotland and at the beginning of my journey I took a taxi to Manchester Piccadilly station. As I got into the taxi I was greeted by a friendly driver who reminded me of my Croatian father and we struck up a conversation about where I was travelling to. I told him about the retreat centre and that I was a yoga teacher. He asked me to explain to him what yoga was and after a brief explanation, I seemed to have satisfied his curiosity. It was at this point he excitedly passed me his mobile phone which was linked to the car stereo and said “Listen”. He played me a piece of music called ‘The Second waltz’ by the Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich.
As the music played, the sound of the waltz seemed to fill the whole taxi. As the car drove through the streets of Manchester, I gazed out of the window. I saw people heading to work, mums taking their children to school and people walking their dogs. I briefly glanced down at the phone I’d been handed and noticed that the music was the score for a short film someone had created of people from various films dancing a waltz.
There was something about the music and images of the people dancing combined with glimpses of the ordinary beauty of life unfolding before my eyes that I found incredibly moving. I suddenly felt my heart open wide and tears filled my eyes. Then as if by magic, the waltz finished just as we arrived at the station and I told the taxi driver the music was very beautiful. Over the next few days my encounter with the taxi driver stayed with me and it felt like a blessing because I allowed life to touch me. I joined the dance in all its beauty and wonder.
We often try and control our experience of life, swinging between pushing away the painful aspects, whilst trying to hold onto only the pleasurable. If we can connect to a quality of spacious awareness and be open to the present moment without trying to add to it, we can allow our bare experience to be present and we can fully attend to it. We can taste a vitality and vibrancy from the awareness of our lives unfolding moment by moment.
I believe that by learning to relax into our bodies, being with open hearted vulnerability and allowing life to touch us, we can find creative responses to the world around us. There is a strength that comes from abiding in the heart and in our vulnerability. It connects us more deeply to ourselves, others and brings us into a deeper relationship with the world.