Inspired by His Life, May We be Motivated by

December 12, 2013
Katherine Austin Wooley



As Nelson Mandela is being memorialized around the world, we in the yoga community must add him to our list of true teachers. While not a traditional "yogi" in our familiar usage of the word, he is nonetheless a guru of illustrious distinction.

Ahimsa, the practice of nonviolence, the first yama of the eight limbs of yoga, is something Mandela took very seriously. He overthrew an old and racist government after spending 27 years in prison…all the while forgiving those that imprisoned him. 

Nelson Mandela - a great, humble, passionate, inspiring, generous man.

Listening and reading about this incredible man causes reflection on one's own life. Have you ever thought about what might be said about you upon your own demise? Have you ever thought about writing your own eulogy? It may sound quite strange and unsettling but it also may offer an opportunity to step outside yourself and consider the life you are leading.

For what do you want to be remembered?

By whom do you want to be remembered?

What type of footprint will you leave upon this earth?

The answers to these questions will say a lot about what is important to you, and may give you impetus to move forward or in an alternate direction in your life.

You may not want the whole world to mourn your death, and have every news channel do a story about your life, or maybe you do.  Or maybe you just want to be remembered for being a great mother, father, teacher, businessperson or athlete.  Or perhaps you want to be remembered for your work in your community, or for your volunteer efforts, or for your writing, baking or crafts.

It is doubtful that you want to be remembered for the time you spent being frustrated about not getting that account or winning that game, talking on the phone or being upset with your parents or children.  Definitely not for being rude, unkind, self-absorbed, or mindless. . . .

Whatever it is, may this exercise or even the thought of completing this exercise, inspire you to lead the life for which you want to be remembered. May remembering Nelson Mandela inspire you to follow your heart and influence your legacy.

Do more good. Hug more people.  Be generous and be kind. Smile at the checkout clerk. Pick up trash. Open doors for others. Let the guy in the next lane cut in front of you if he is in a hurry. Most importantly, begin with yourself…be kind, loving and generous to yourself - it will inspire others to do the same.

"Our worst fear is not that we are inadequate; our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, "Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?" Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God; your playing small doesn't serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God within us. It is not just in some of us, it is in everyone; and as we let our own light shine we unconsciously give others the permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

- Marianne Williamson quoted by Nelson Mandela


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