The Story of River Sierra: A Story Inspired by the Niyamas

River was almost 40 years old when he married Bluebird Sky, the mother of a 9-year-old son Little Tree, and a 6-year old daughter Little Flower. River had been married once before, too, but had no children of his own. He was happy to start a new life, living with his new family in their rural mountain home.

River knew that there were a series of tragic events a number of years ago that had led to Bluebird Sky’s divorce from Gray Night; he knew his new wife Bluebird worked hard to put their past behind her and start a new life with River by her side.

Through their early years together, River and Bluebird took the kids on many adventures – hiking, skiing, and camping in the wilderness. They lived a healthy lifestyle – eating well, exercising regularly, and living naturally in their mountain community. They tried to cultivate a happy and wholesome new life together. They were able to have a clean start, enjoying a natural, down-to-earth existence (sauca = purification).

A few years later, Gray Night, who had been serving a jail sentence as a result of the tragic events from years before, moved into the local town. Understandably, he wanted to be closer to his two children.

However, Bluebird Sky got very sick. She became overwhelmed with fear, being reminded of the earlier events in their lives. She struggled and struggled to put the past feelings behind her, but she couldn’t. The panic and fear was held deep in her body, and it took over her ability to live a normal life. She struggled and struggled each day to be the mom her children expected, but that expectation was quickly becoming impossible for her to satisfy.

River remained by her side – determined to be a strong husband, working hard to be there in support of the whole family, trying steadfastly to get through each day, one day at a time, practicing the healthy behaviors he had come to know, doing the best he could. He sold many personal belongings and withdrew savings in order to pay hospital bills. He had to remain focused on his wife’s care, trying to find peace within the chaotic circumstances, being content with what was most important – daily survival (santosa = contentment).

River was a disciplined and loyal man. He got up each morning, exercised privately, got the kids off to school, took care of his wife, and tried to find time to do his job’s work and research for his wife’s care. He was reminded during this time of his own personal resolve and resiliency, having tested himself as a youth with the unpopular decision not to drink or try drugs, to dedicate himself to learning and excellence in schoolwork, and to pedal his bicycle hundreds of miles at a time (tapas = discipline).

Many of his days were spent just breathing with his wife, practicing a breath they had learned years before while studying yoga together, reading poems that reminded them to have faith, and listening to calming music to get through the days between doctor and hospital visits. When possible, they would often go for quiet, therapeutic hikes in the woods with their pet dog, Jackson Moose. When able, they would practice yoga asana, moving their bodies with their breath. During these practices, they would find some moments of peacefulness.

Each day, they did what they needed to do to get through the day, struggling and struggling to get through the fear and panic associated with their lives slowly slipping away, fighting bravely to be well-intentioned parents for their kids. However, the constant reminder of the past events due to the proximity of Gray Night largely left Bluebird trapped in her house, sick, panicking, and full of fear. The protective and caring nature of River kept him isolated in their home, afraid to leave Bluebird alone.

Eventually, River’s research and study went from seeking medical-related advice from doctors and reading literature written by others, to listening more closely to his own intuition and trusting his own instincts (svadhyaya = self-study or spiritual exploration).

One day, he realized that he was holding on too closely to a vision that he had of the way he hoped his marriage would be like. As he listened more closely to his inner knowingness, surrendering himself to his more Divine nature and his faith in the Universe, he realized that he had to let go of expectations of the way he thought his wife should be, how his future would be, and trust that things would unfold in their lives in a healthy way if he listened without judgment, loved without condition, and trusted without question (isvara-pranidhana = dedication to ideal of pure awareness or surrender to the Divine).

Things shifted.

Within days, they found new care. New doctors understood the previous trauma and cleansed Bluebird’s body of the toxic medications prescribed by previous doctor after doctor. Bluebird started to find her light again. She realized that she would be okay if she let go of the suffering from the past, practiced a new way of living mindfully each day, and didn’t worry about how the future might turn out. She took responsibility for this new practice of mindful living, learning to maintain a wise perspective, and day by day, she got better.

Gray Night moved away.

Years later, Bluebird Sky’s experiences would lead her to a simpler life of healing. She created a heart-centered, community-building wellness center, shining her light again brightly in the support of others, feeling abundance in the love of others, and utilizing her personal experiences with new inspiration. There were multiple steps along the way, yes, but each step allowed a new perspective. Today, she practices to maintain a bird’s-eye view, remembering to rejoice in the spirit of the present moment.

Little Tree and Little Flower would grow up quickly, graduate from colleges, and begin resilient young lives in thriving cities, leaving their rural roots in the mountains, at least for today.

River Sierra would learn to flow with life again as himself, letting go somewhat of the day-to-day responsibility of keeping his family alive and healthy, exploring new work possibilities with a clearer and wiser perspective, and knowing deep inside that his gift had always been to see the beauty in others even when they didn’t see it themselves… And to convey instinctively a sense of safety and faith. For him, sometimes all that would mean would be to be there when the time was right, to plant seeds, feed them, and happily watch them grow.

Sometimes, all that it would mean would be to just be content with the way things are.

Letting go, River flows naturally again.

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