It's September and the world around us is swinging back into action from its summer lull. As this happens, we too are shifting gears – most of us from low(er) to high(er). You would be far from alone if your reaction to the suggestion that you add a mindfulness practice to your days right now is a resounding, “No way. That is crazy. I don't have time for that.” But I will tell you, quite insistently, that there is no better time for you to practice than when you don’t feel like you have the time to practice.
Perhaps the most meaningful yoga classes I have ever taught were for girls in middle school. It felt like a healing ministry to share yoga’s message of “you’re OK exactly as you are right now.” I felt as though I were slipping them a protective shield to deflect the debilitating messages of “No, you’re not.” that they were just starting to notice coming from the world around them. This is a shield every one of us could use. If we all practiced self-acceptance, every single on of our relationships would improve. The better terms we are on with ourselves, the better terms we will be on with others.
One of the hardest aspects to grapple with within yoga philosophy and spirituality in general is the idea of the Authentic Self and the false self. It was a relationship with a student that finally demystified my intellectual understanding and brought it to life.
Admit it. As funny as the line is, you too have said or wanted to say, "Oh. I wish I could, but I don't want to." We humans just don't always want to do the right thing. This is one of the real-life stumbling blocks that yoga philosophy can help us navigate.
This shared point in our history is uncomfortable. We can choose hope and optimism by seeing life (and ourselves) as a work in progress. Ignatian spirituality and yoga philosophy offer guidance in choosing hope. It's easy to start practicing on our yoga mats.
While I never (ever) would have chosen any of what’s happened during this year that will certainly go down in infamy, I am able, with open heart and open hands, to say thank you 2020 for all of your ambiguous gifts. Happy holidays to you and cheers to a bright new year!
The little things in life that make you smile can slip by unnoticed if you're not paying attention. Practicing mindfulness can help. Mindfulness practices such as yoga teach us that, with practice, we can develop the ability to choose our focus, to choose what our mind is thinking or focusing on in any given moment.
Play is important. It is necessary. Play is a biological drive as critical to our health as sleep or food. Play can help us solve some of life’s toughest problems. When we take a break from a challenge to play, our minds continue to work on the problem. Play allows our minds to create new neural networks and to reconcile cognitive difficulties. Developing a habit of regular play can actually make all of life go better. The ability to work past difficulty or boredom to find the fun is a skill we all have to develop, but if we can embrace the notion that play is not always “all fun and games,” but can involve some discomfort and hard work, we will be better able to find a sense of play in everything we do – even our work. This perspective is a powerful way to make life more enjoyable.
We humans are social creatures. Our nervous systems are actually designed to pick up on and imitate the emotions of others. We actually leak emotions to one another! In times like this one as we (all of us, around the world) navigate this pandemic, we are feeling the impact of this “emotional leaking” more than ever. Each of can practice being mindful of the emotions we share as we engage with the world around us by making sure the things we say are True, Helpful, Inspiring, Necessary and Kind. This level of awareness will help each of us to stay in the moment, which is the only place we can find some peace and calm. More importantly, when we’re feeling calm (or at least calmer), we will “leak” a little of that sense of calm to the world around us.