"Yoga is the stilling of the modifications of the mind."

-From the Yoga Sutras of Patanjani 1.2 and 1.3

Tranquility Yoga

235 Littleton Road, Unit 1
Westford, MA 01886

978-729-4731

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If you read my last blog, then you know that my family is currently dealing with cancer in our 8-year old Golden Retriever, Comet. Two months ago, Comet underwent emergency surgery for internal bleeding, and it turned out he had a highly malignant tumor on his spleen. At that time, we were told that dogs with this disease had an average lifespan post-surgery of 30 days without chemotherapy, and with chemotherapy it would be 4 – 6 months. We opted for chemotherapy, and are now 2 months into this journey.
 
And quite a journey it has been. When we first got the news, we were devastated. Comet has been part of our family for 8 years, and the thought of losing him seemed unbelievable and unbearable. With time, though, I have begun to process this and have had some amazing realizations around it. For one thing, we could have 4 – 6 months with him left and not even know it. None of us knows what the future will hold, yet we all go along thinking that our lives will always be the way they are today – living in the illusion that life is infinite, even while we know intellectually that it is finite. Why does knowing there is an end in sight change things? I thought deeply about this in the days following his diagnoses. What would I do if I suddenly knew I had just 4 – 6 months to live? What would be on my bucket list?
 
We don’t have a choice about Comet’s condition. We don’t get a say in how long he will live. But we do have a choice as to how we react to the news. We can go around bemoaning  our fate and being depressed and sad about it. Or we can embrace the time we have left and be grateful for it. Since Comet’s diagnosis, I have been cultivating my ability to live in the present at a much deeper level. Every day with him is a gift right now, and I am grateful for this time. I didn’t realize how much I took for granted – and that has actually translated into my whole life. None of us knows what’s in store, and the more we can be present with and grateful for what we have today, the less regrets we will have tomorrow.
 
Today, Comet went in for his third chemotherapy treatment and I had an interesting conversation with the Vet. He told me that the goal for cancer treatment in dogs is different than for humans. For people, doctors try to eradicate the cancer completely, even if it means that the person is miserable from the treatments. Sometimes that works, and if the person is cancer-free for 5 years they are declared “cured” or a “cancer survivor”, and sometimes it doesn’t. For dogs, however, the goal (at least for this type of cancer) is to find a balance that will give them a prolonged life with good quality.The dosages of the cancer-fighting drugs are lower with the hope that the cancer can be suppressed for a while to enable the dog to have a decent quality of life for whatever amount of time they have left. 
 
That seems to be working for Comet for now. He is content and doesn’t seem to be in any pain. He has had a mild reaction to the chemotherapy drugs, but nothing like what people usually experience. We continue to take life a day at a time with him, and make each day count. I know we will miss him tremendously when he is no longer with us, but nothing can take away the love that he has given us and continues to give us each day he is still here. 
 
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As we get older, none of us are strangers to loss and death. It is an inevitable part of life. And it is never the right time, nor does it get any easier as we get older. Part of living is learning to accept this cycle and recognize that nothing in life is permanent, no matter how tightly we try to hold on. This is the one of the unavoidable truths of life.

My family is facing this now, as we just recently said goodbye to my husband’s stepmother, Barbara, and now we also look at a future without our 8 year old Golden Retriever, Comet. Comet has been a member of our family since he was 4 weeks old, and frankly, I cannot even imagine life without him.

Last week, we attended a memorial service for Barbara, and then several days later, Comet had emergency surgery because of a bleeding tumor in his abdomen. The surgery saved his life, but now he has been diagnosed with a very nasty and virulent type of cancer, and even with treatment, probably the best we can expect to get is 4 – 6 months more time with him. I am stunned by this news, yet also grateful that we will have a little time to process it all and to say good-bye. We almost lost him last week, but since the surgery, he is doing much better and we now have time to face this with him, rather than without him.

Three years ago, we lost our first Golden Retriever, Clyde, at age 13. I was devastated at the time, but had Comet there to help me through. Ironically, two days ago, when I got the call from the surgeon telling me the diagnosis and how grim the statistics were, there was Comet again, right by my side. I was in tears, and he was there to comfort me, completely unaware that I was crying for the eventual loss of him.

That is Comet in a nutshell. He has been trained as a Therapy Dog, and he knows how to make others feel better. His presence is so serene and so profound. I can’t explain how he does it, but people feel better around him. As Barbara was declining with Dementia in recent years, Comet would go with us frequently to visit with her, and she always seemed to come to life when he was there. This was one of the reasons that I thought he would make a wonderful Therapy Dog.

A few weeks ago, on one of our visits to an Assisted Living facility, one of the women there looked me in the eye and said “You just ENJOY him while you have him! They don’t last forever, you know.” I didn’t think much of it at the time, though little did I know how portentous that was…

Shortly after Clyde died, I wrote the following in a blog:

“Through my work as a Yoga teacher I have been exposed to many facets of yogic philosophy, and one of the things that Yoga teaches is that the biggest fear we have is the fear of death. As I watched Clyde at the end, though, I could see how peaceful he was and how he just wanted to be free of the constraints and pains of his body. There was no fear for him. It was much worse for those of us left behind with a gaping hole that will never quite fill in all the way. Even though I knew that Clyde was not going to be around forever, and even though I thought I was "prepared" to lose him, I still miss his wagging tail that never stopped. Wherever you go, Clyde, I wish for you that your tail wags forever...”

Well, that big gaping hole is about to get much larger. All we can do is ENJOY the next few months with Comet while he is feeling good and able to enjoy his life. We will do our best to help him live his life to the fullest.

And when he starts to suffer, we will take solace in the fact that he has given us way more than we could have ever imagined. He has taught us about unconditional love, and he has helped me be a better listener and a better person.

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Click here to read this blog, written by one of our teachers, Carol Waite. Carol is now teaching Monday mornings at Tranquility Yoga! 

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A recent post on Facebook really brought me up short. For over 3o years since my father died, I have felt his presence many times, and very often when I feel it the most, I find dimes. For a long time, I have felt like this was just a quirky thing that was unique to me and my family, but after reading this post, I am not so sure: When a dime is more than just loose change.

I first noticed this about 3 – 4 months after my father passed away. My mother and I went on a short get-away and were on a remote beach in the Bahamas, just sitting there watching the scenery. My mom found a dime in the sand between us, and said "Oh, that's just your dad's way of saying hi." My father had been one to find change everywhere. In fact, about 3 weeks before he died, we were at a funeral for a cousin of mine, and my dad found some change in the parking lot. I remember him looking at it strangely and saying that he wasn't sure this was the best place to find money.

When my mom found the dime, I told her that was strange because I had been finding a lot of change recently, and after that, I started taking note of it. It was quite amazing – EVERYWHERE I turned, I seemed to find change – mostly dimes. While often it seemed pretty random, there were definitely times when it was clear to me that this was a message from him. At almost every major crossroad in my life since that time, when I have taken a step forward and made a conscious choice about my life's direction, I have found change in odd places, and had a very strong sense of my dad's presence.

Several years ago, while cleaning out my closet, I came across a piggy bank with money I collected during the first few years after my dad died. I counted it and it totaled about $140.00. Since this money came from small change, I thought that it would be appropriate to continue to grow this fund with small change. I put collection box at Tranquility Yoga, labeled it the "Karma Fund" and invited students who were so moved to add to it in whatever way they could. Their collective contributions over time have helped other students come to yoga classes. I seeded this fund with the $140.00 of "found money" and have kept it running for the last 5 years. I intend to keep it running as long as there is money in the pot to fund it. Know that any money donated to this fund will be used exclusively to fund students to take yoga classes at Tranquility Yoga – students who would otherwise not be able to afford to take yoga classes.

If at any time, you or anyone you know would like to benefit from this fund, please contact me, and I will let you know what is available. The amount you pay will be worked out on a case by case basis and will be kept completely confidential.

As always, I thank you all for your continued dedication to Tranquility Yoga!

 

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