Nicolae Tanase: Jana, what is the meaning of life?
Jana Long: Life is simple, but not easy. Fortunately, the things that are most simple happen automatically — respiration, circulation, digestion and elimination. Thank goodness I am not burdened trying to remember to breathe, blink or swallow!
What is not easy is to stay connected to a true reality — like sunrise and sunset, moon cycles, the movement of the stars, and seasonal changes, and to not pay undue credence to the mental stuff that transports me from the present and plunges me into the abyss of my mind. To climb out of it, I usually ask myself “why are you here?” This question snaps me back to a state of full awareness of what is unfolding in the present moment.
For me, the meaning of life is found in the simple act of bearing witness to the here and now. There is never a dull moment; the present is pregnant with reflections of the past and possibilities of the future. In every moment there are sights, sounds, smells, sounds, feelings and even at times silence to experience. I just watch.
When I feel my life is getting complicated, I go to my garden. With trowel in hand, I plant a seed; with clippers in hand, I collect a seed. I sit and listen to the birds and small creatures that manage to coexist in my urban environment as they communicate with each other. I just listen.
When I am searching for understanding, I find solid ground to stand on. If at all possible, I put my bare feet on the earth. I look between the blades of grass and meditate on what is underfoot. I think the meaning of life is to be at peace. I just surrender.
~Jana Long, is the director of Power of One Yoga Center and Executive Director of the Black Yoga Teachers Alliance. She is an integrative wellness practitioner, yoga teacher, meditation facilitator and spiritual life coach. Her practice and study of yoga spans more than 40 years. She is an experienced teacher certified in Integrative Yoga Therapy, Kripalu Yoga and the Wise Earth Ayurvedic tradition of self-care. She is an initiate into the Satyananda Yoga tradition whose central teachings are “serve, love and give.” She was given the spiritual name Gyanamati, which means “Wise Mother” by her guru Swami Niranjanananda Saraswati. Jana is also a writer, master gardener and ardent student astrology. She manages a small client-based yoga practice, teaches community college courses in the therapeutic application of yoga for seniors and leads classes in yoga and meditation for cancer management. She is fortunate to embody the multi-faceted, divinely feminine roles of daughter, sister, wife, mother, aunt and grandmother.
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