“The purpose of gathering stillness is not to enrich the sanctuary or mountaintop but to bring that calm into the motion, the commotion of the world.” My New Year's intention is to create a sense of stillness in my life. In my imagination (after all, it’s only January 3 as I write this, so I’m still exploring and might be for years) the stillness I seek is a slower, more mindful pace. It is a sense of spaciousness in my days. It is an ability to prioritize. It is a freedom from compulsive, anxiety-driven doing. While the stillness I’m describing might manifest more as a mindset, a perspective, and an attitude than anything else, it is quite real. It is tangible. I have felt it and I want more of it. If my quest for stillness resonates with you, read on for some ideas on how I hope to create a little of it every day.
Practicing mindfulness while Christmas shopping? YES. A day spent among crowds, with little likelihood of a parking spot, and crazy, mid-December drivers with whom we share the roads reveal that the only thing we control in life is ourselves. Paying attention to how we're approaching these "obstacles" is a surefire way to have a happier day.
Asking for help can be surprisingly hard for us to do. It requires us to relinquish control and risk of being seen as needy. But asking for help yoke ourselves to a whole that is far greater than ourselves. This whole is filled with incomprehensible possibilities. Asking for help is a way to tap into the potential of the whole. By doing so, we allow the power of the whole to infuse anything we are doing with more creativity, energy and light than we could ever provide on our own.
At the end of a very full holiday weekend, I had an odd, almost out-of-body experience of remembering discrete, individual moments of my holidays. This was a tremendous gift. Had it not happened, these tiny treasures could easily have been lost in the sweep of busy-ness and resulting exhaustion of a happy Thanksgiving. This experience made sweetly personal yoga philosophy's invitation to experience life as a succession of NOWs to be embraced.
When you mix Thanksgiving’s abundance with the holiday’s emphasis on gratitude, a certain alchemy occurs - thankfulness morphs into generosity. Our trust in the plentifulness of life – knowing that we have everything we need – creates a shift in our outlook. Instead of looking around the world and craving more, we look around us and feel full, sated, cared for. Rather than needy, we feel ready and able to meet the needs of others. This Thanksgiving, and all the days that follow, I wish for you a sense of abundance that comes most beautifully from a grateful heart.
No matter how you choose to practice paying attention, with persistence and patience you will notice that almost everything you do all day is infused with a new richness and depth. Your whole life will take on a glow of gratitude as you recognize and absorb the wonder of your everyday life. Presence, like gratitude, will not be contained. They both splash abundantly into every corner of your existence – each enhancing the other as they do.
A rough start to a rough day in a rough week provides the setting for a glimpse of yoga philosophy's power to immediately change life for the better. Practicing yoga helps us develop the capability of choosing our attitude. This can feel like a bit of a superpower as we watch ourselves begin to be the change we wish to see in the world.
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.