Hope Right Now

There is a wonderful article in this weekend’s Vancouver Sun titled ‘Biology of hope’ bolsters Easter’s central message. A thoughtful look at hope and what it means within a religious, psychological, sociological, and even political context.

Some quotes that really stood out for me in this article:

“Hope reflects the capacity for one’s loving, lyrical limbic memory of the past to become attached to the memory of the future.”

“Hope is ‘a desire that is believed possible of realization.'”

Hope is the ability to envision a future in which we wish to participate.”

“Wishing are words and left brain. In contrast, hope is made up of images and is rooted in the right brain. Wishing on a star takes no effort. Hope often requires enormous effort and shapes real lives.”

“In the end, perhaps the most important thing to remember about hope is that it is no walk in the park. It is not the same as optimism, which Larsen correctly says can be Pollyanish. It is not based on impossible dreams or magic wands. It is a virtue to be developed.”

The article goes on to discuss a balance between hope, which is future-based, and the importance of living in the moment. A balance that is beautifully represented in the practice of yoga.

Why do we practice yoga? For a strong and healthy physical body that will carry us through out lives. For enlightenment. For peace of mind and patience. For self-awareness. We practice for many reasons – most of which are rooted in the future. The practice of yoga is, in a sense, the practice of hope. As we work in a pose or practice pranayama, we have hope that it will bring us closer to a future in which we want to participate.

At the same time, yoga is a practice of living in the moment. We intentionally focus our mind inward on what we are experiencing every step of the way. The goal isn’t necessarily to get your body into whichever pretzel shape you’re aiming for, but to experience the journey of what it means to try to get there.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I find this to be one of the most challenging things I have ever attempted to do. My brain wants so badly to jump ahead to the next step every time – it is constantly writing and re-writing the story of my life. However, when I do manage to let go of that story and actually experience the moment I’m living in, there is a wonderful sense of peace and joy to be found, and one of the best places I’ve been able to do this is on my yoga mat.

So through the practice of yoga, we can simultaneously experience hope for the future and the joy of living in the moment.