This morning, as our 6am Zoom yoga class was ending, one of my friends asked if anyone else had heard a train during savasana? She said she had heard one right after I told everyone to pay attention to the breath moving in and out of their noses. None of us had. She went on to explain that the sound of a train always reminds her of her late father.
I got a little choked up, because I know how powerful some moments in savasana can be. When we allow ourselves to be still, let go of other thoughts, and connect deeply to our breath it can be very emotional. The addition of a personally significant external sensation, like a sound or a scent can make those moments all the more poignant.
The words she spoke also affected me because they reminded me of words I read yesterday. A well respected Peace Worker and Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn passed away a few days ago. He had been sick for quite some time and knew that death was imminent. Shortly before his death he wrote:
“Please do not build a stupa [shrine] for me. Please do not put my ashes in a vase, lock me inside and limit who I am. I know this will be difficult for some of you. If you must build a stupa though, please make sure that you put a sign on it that says, ‘I am not in here.’ In addition, you can also put another sign that says, ‘I am not out there either,’ and a third sign that says, ‘If I am anywhere, it is in your mindful breathing and in your peaceful steps.’”
Such powerful words. Peaceful and powerful.
All of our ancestors, all of our deceased teachers and loved ones, are there, right outside of our noses, right under our feet. They may have passed on, but they continue to pass through us. We can remember them, feel them, and honor them with every breath and every step. We can breathe them in and walk with them whenever we allow ourselves to tap in to the connective power of all things, through all times.
The entirety of the universe, past, present and future, passes through our noses and under our feet at every moment. Breathe mindfully, walk peacefully, tune in to your senses, and you just might feel it.