Tend to Your Space & Redirect to Joy By: Brynn Scally
Each morning that I teach at the yoga studio, before any of my students come in the door, I put down my purse and begin to fluff the space. I light candles and find the right place to put them in. I turn on music and begin cleaning the floors. I breathe into the space and evaluate which corners need attending. As I went through this ritual today I was aware of the joy that comes with tending to a space. After class I got home and fed my sourdough starter, pulled weeds and watered my flowers. None of this is all too glamorous, depending on the reader. While in the garden I noticed our first monarch of the season flitting back and forth on my milkweed, care taking, evaluating its space, touching each flower putting the new space in perspective. Our theme for 2021 at YESyoga is “redirect to joy.” Joy for me is not necessarily happiness. Joy is a state of being, happiness is a momentary emotion. I have come to know more and more after a long time of caring for things and spaces that joy is a state of being brought on by caring for our lives and the things in it. Watching the butterfly, it is clear that all beings must know, instinctually, that joy comes as a reaction to this action of “caring for” and “tending to.”
Tending to a space looks different for every person and I do believe it is a reflection of the age of the spirit. I have teenage daughters and our ideas on caring for the spaces around us are quite different. My girls bedroom walls are painstakingly covered in details that shout “this is who I am.” All other surfaces in the room are covered in what I consider a vile accumulation of refuse. I remember being that age and that there was a beauty and comfort in the mess, a means of shedding childhood expectations, a cocoon created out of rebellion, a nest of ones own belongings that can be claimed as “mine.” As I've aged I understand more deeply what it offers our souls to give feely of ourselves without expecting anything in return. We start to see ourselves not just through the scope of how we think others perceive us and how we can push or pull against this perception, but see more and more who we truly are.
I watch a show on YouTube called Soft White Underbelly where a man interviews and films various homeless people. One girl he interviewed on Skid Row in LA said in her interview that she stays sane and happy by sweeping the area around her tent each morning, folding her sleeping bag and making the inside nice before heading out to her day. She said that if she’s lucky she may find some wildflowers she can put in her tent. This brings her joy. This stayed with me.
In yoga we often refer to a “sacred space.” The “space” is so many things. The space in your body, the space you sit in right now, the larger spaces we all share. Another great part of aging is starting to understand the importance of the closest space. My daughter told me recently how anxious it makes her when I tell her about her future potential, because the world and the scope of need in the world, is so big. What I reminded her, and what I needed to remind myself in that moment, is to start with the space closest to your heart. Take space in the moment, breath, notice what comes up. Tend to yourself first. Then move to the bigger space. Notice and appreciate how you create this life you are living. The bigger spaces will come, almost imperceivabley, as you open to the joy.