We have two lives

“And on this journey, please, choose love.” I’ve ended every class in 2016 with these seven words. 

Like every mantra, it’s made an impact on my daily life. “Choose love” is a tough mantra to let go of. It’s resonated with so many people and, in many ways, it’s become synonymous with the studio. And it’s the foundational step to our 2017 mantra, which, like some many real things do, found me. 

Back in October I went to go hear Jon Kabat-Zinn at Hochstein. He was introduced by Mick Krasner, M.D. and, although the entire evening was incredibly impactful, it was this brief introduction that has not left my heart, or my head:

“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.” -Confucius


That’s the first word that came to my mind — damn. That’s just so freaking true. Dr. Krasner continued by saying that the revelation of this second life, a life all too often unlived, is what J.K.Z.’s teachings awakened him to. Awakening, indeed. 

I heard each of J.K.Z.’s words. I saw the beauty of the Hochstein, felt the presence of those who surrounded me, but, if I am being totally honest, I barely emotionally moved past those opening words. It’s the space I’m in — the daily practice of mindfulness meditation, the Tara Brach podcasts, the Pema Chödrön books, the yoga, the people I share my life with…

And, it’s the knowing that if you get quiet enough, and courageous enough to sit in the damn discomfort, that if you keep choosing love and really listen to what it says, then, well, then you can live from that space and, yes, it might seem terrifying and it might be really uncomfortable and uncertain. It’s also deeply connecting with a truth, not someone else’s truth; your truth. 

A truth that is based in love, not fear. A truth that you are intimately proud of and a truth that wholeheartedly says to you: this, this is the one life you have — so, damn it — go live it. And everyone and everything else? It will all be okay. 

The part that is the most challenging, at least for me, but I believe it to be true for most is that often we have spent our first life unknowingly crafting ways to dodge the truth of the second. This second life, has most likely been quietly whispering and showing itself in soft, subtle ways — a tinge at the heart here, a repeated inner voice there. I think, at times, it can be mistaken for excitement — a way to escape the sometimes “good enough” life we find our self living. Maybe, we’ve ignored the tinges and the voices so much that we stop trusting. This transition from first to second life is uncomfortable, like so many poses and situations. It’s uncomfortable like the quiet of meditation. But it’s in the quiet of that mindful, present space that our second life find us. And, in so many ways this circles back to a book, an author, who found me: 

‘Everyone, when they are young, knows what their destiny is. At that point in their lives, everything is clear and everything is possible. They are not afraid to dream, and to yearn for everything they would like to see happen to them in their lives. But, as time passes, a mysterious force begins to convince them that it will be impossible for them to realize their destiny… It’s a force that appears to be negative, but actually shows you how to realize your destiny. It prepares your spirit and you will, because there is one great truth on this planet: whoever you are, or whatever it is that you do, when you really want something, it’s because that desire originated in the soul of the universe. It’s your mission on earth.’ ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist

On that night in October, those words found me. I was open to hear them, and I needed to. I’m continuing to listen. So, every time I teach, I’ll end with them, with a deep belief that, like every mantra, soon, I will live them.

“We have two lives, and the second begins when we realize we only have one.” –Confucius

#LoveListenLive in 2017.

Erica ❤️

Written by Erica Denman