3 simple words to keep in mind on and off the mat.
These 3 words I have found to be totally transformative to my yoga practice.
The more I practice, the more I realise that what is truly interesting in each asana (yoga pose) is not what is happening in the body, but what is happening in the mind.
Thoughts pop up that can be hard to face. Thoughts pop up that can take our attention away and afar, as we rehash old stories, or dream up new ones. Shopping lists, conversations at work, emails to write; the mind is a busy junction with thoughts coming and going like trains. It can be hard to be honest with ourselves and truly acknowledge the thoughts and accompanying emotions that arise within us. We may not like to acknowledge our stubbornness, arrogance or easily frustrated nature- but we are human. We must be patient with our selves, seeing these patterns but knowing they are not us. They may appear within us regularly (or occasionally) but they are not us. We are not rigid, we are flexible, constantly changing, never set in stone.
Yoga asana allows us to hone our skills of concentration as we observe without judgement what arises as we move our body from shape to shape. When we practice this ability of moment to moment observation, just like practicing anything, we strengthen it. When we are able to be present we engage with life as it is- acceptance. We work on being just where we are within a yoga pose without thinking about where we should be, where we would like to be, or where the person on the mat next to us is. With acceptance of our circumstances we naturally invite patience. Patience leads to all kinds of positive qualities- kindness, generosity, tolerance, selflessness, empathy to name a few.
Practice, patience, presence. This recipe is not exclusive to yoga, in fact these three attributes allow us to navigate more smoothly through all areas of life. I have found this to be incredibly true with regards to parenting. As a mother to a 6 month old I am practicing patience every day, and with that dedicated daily practice I have found my capacity for patience has increased more than I could have imagined! She does not sleep when I want, she does not sleep for as long as I would like, she is a spontaneous and independent little being and sometimes she doesn’t fit in with our ‘plans’. I can only be present because as I sit rocking her to sleep, or as I sit through nights of cluster feeding, if I think about what I would rather be doing, or what I have to do when I can FINALLY put her down I would quite simply go bananas. When I think- ‘but she slept through last week, what’s gone wrong?’ I feel cheated, when I think ‘when will I ever get a full nights sleep again?’ I feel down. But when I notice the softness and warmth of the baby in my arms, when I see what is there in that moment- a baby and its mother, it really is OK.
Presence and patience feels better. It is easier. It opens the way for intimacy, as to be intimate we have to be present, it opens the way for kindness and empathy, as I acknowledge my daughter needs me and is not crying or fussing out of spite!
Being present means we open our self up to the reality of life as it unfolds. We don’t just listen, we hear, we don’t just look, we see, we don’t react we respond. We essentially wake up to a whole life within our lives which when existing via autopilot, planning, and impatience could easily be missed.
Practice- whatever that means for you, yoga, meditation, art, music, cooking, changing nappies, driving to work, relationships.
Presence- observing, acknowledging, accepting, being not just doing
Patience- cultivates kindness, empathy and understanding towards yourself and others.
The divine in me, bows to the divine in you