“When you know how to listen, everyone is the guru.” –Baba Ram Das.
Today I was in a store that I don’t enjoy being in. Shopping for things I don’t like to buy. Needless to say I wasn’t content but I was trying to just accept that I needed to fulfill this certain task and go about it in as positive a mindset as possible. Observing my thoughts, I saw that my mind and ego were being elitist and pessimistic. So I started to chant a mantra in my head to direct my mind’s energy towards a more positive place. Overall, I was trying to practice my yoga off the mat but was really struggling, to be honest.
After I finish shopping, I’m checking out and the guy bagging my groceries is joking around with the tight-lipped cashier. He makes me laugh, the first smile I’ve cracked in the last hour. And he mentions something about having had worked there for the past ten years. Now, this is not a place I could ever imagine myself working in for ten minutes, let alone ten years. Here is this humble, smiling soul with a simple heart who has probably never stepped on a yoga mat, with a deeper practice than I do. He’s practicing one of the eight limbs of yoga, a Niyama, called santosha, or contentment, despite my mind’s opinion of a less-than-ideal situation. Granted, I don’t know how this man lives his life outside of the store but I could feel that his heart was kind and that’s all I needed to know for the simple interaction to teach me so much.
There are many people who have never done a single asana in their lives yet unbeknownst to them they’re practicing yogis. Meeting people like this happens rarely but when you do, it’s clear. They remind us that, hey, we don’t know as much as we think we do. We don’t have all the answers. And we’re certainly no guru. And yoga will be a lifelong practice because there is so much to learn! We will never stop learning so long as we continue seeking because the gift of yoga is as vast and deep as a thousand oceans.
One of my teachers, The Mother, says that the Universe is always presenting us with opportunities to learn and to grow so long as we have the intention to do so. With right intention and action, the Universe creates every opportunity in your life in order to help you evolve and deepen your practice. So when the bagger at the grocery store makes you smile despite all odds, pay attention. He’s your guru in disguise.
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Jenna Pacelli is a Holistic Health Coach and yoga teacher at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. She coaches yoga practitioners and busy professionals in the San Francisco Bay Area and all over the world struggling with energy levels, stress reduction and weight management. With a focus on aligning their lives with their values, her clients create lasting change and fully embodied health and wellbeing.
Jenna believes that by creating health and wellness at the physical, emotional and mental levels, it is inevitable that joy and a deep understanding of one’s purpose follow.
Top photo credit: Dean Terry