Sometimes I pray, sometimes I wish on falling stars, and sometimes I throw spilled salt over my shoulder.
I don’t say “God bless you” when someone sneezes. Peter doesn’t either. We cleared that up while driving from Telluride, CO to Vermont. We were newly coupled so it was a getting-to-know-you-kind-of-a-big-deal-thing. We both prefer to say, “Quit it!” or “Whoa-wah!” after either of us sneezes.
Why do we say God Bless You? Do we really believe that we are saving the life of the sneezer by keeping the devil away or is it some sort of familial or social habit?
Do people get hurt feelings if no one says Gesundheit? Is a sneeze a statement like “It sure is beautiful outside today”, and it would be rude not to respond?
I have a friend (the bless you type) who’s uncomfortable about taking yoga classes. She feels it’s like praying to false idols. Periodic chanting may have something to do with that. Another friend is more hesitant because the music and some of the words bother her. I admit some of the music can be weird and hearing someone speak Sanskrit with a heavy Vermont or New York accent may seem a bit much, but perhaps it’s just distracting.
Here’s the deal. Yoga gives us an opportunity to quiet our minds so that God can come in for a chat. By God (and not BY God spoken emphatically like a true Vermonter) I mean the God of Our Devotion; it may be our faith, our own inner power, or the universe itself, whomever or whatever inspires us to be kinder, gentler, more responsive and attentive, forgiving people.
God of our Devotion (GOOD): “I’ll talk and you listen”.
Mind: “I can’t hear anything”
GOOD: “Stop talking.”
Mind: “I think we are chanting to an elephant.”
GOOD: “I don’t care what’s going on, just stop talking.”
Mind: “I can’t hear anything but the sound of my own breath.”
GOOD: “Now we are getting somewhere.”
The great thing about a yoga class is you don’t have to discuss it after. You don’t need to admit that you recited the Lord’s Prayer or “Star light star bright, first star I see tonight” instead of an invocation to Ganesh ( the elephant statue). You can ignore the music and the chants and count your breaths. My average is 12 a minute and am aiming for 10. Why? No idea except it calms me down.
What else do we say like “Bless you” without thinking about it. “Have a nice day” or “That was great, let’s do it again soon”, might come to mind.
Say God Bless if it makes you feel better but don’t do it for me. If the empty space is too much, say something like “How about that pollen count!”
Namaste, must be dust mites it’s too late for hay.