There was no way I could sit still and meditate when I decided I needed to slow down and sort myself out. Yes, something needed to change. Basically I had a great job, a house a car, great friends...but I was unhappy, despite appearing strong underneath the thin veil of confidence was a vulnerable and fragile soul.
What started as weekly Yoga class slowly progressed to a deep and intimate connection to my Self, this intimate dance just kept on growing. This practice helped me to get to know myself and the habits of my mind. Each posture challenged me to get real, be present watch observe and reflect. Then I discovered how to synchronise the breath with the postures something liberating happened the chattering mind began to slow down. This was when I realised the power of the breath .This relationship with my breath became more intimate, when I discovered Pranayama it blew my mind, but more importantly it blew my heart wide open. I realised I didn't need to twist myself into a pretzel, force myself to bend and twist until I fell into savasana. I could take things much slower. I began a love affair with me, myself and I.
It is a path to feel more empowered, it is about taking full responsibility of our thoughts and actions and knowing that the power to change lies in the present moment.
This takes time and more importantly commitment. Like any healthy relationship commitment is vital, otherwise we become prey to the fluctuations of the mind and the many excuses it makes to divert its attention away from the goal. What is the goal; is it flexibility, a better body or an acutely focused mind? If we take Patanjali the wise Yogic sage as our guide, then it is single pointed awareness described as Nirodhah in the second sutra. His wisdom directs us here, so we can experience happiness and not be prey to the fluctuation (vrittis) of the mind ( chitta). We can be stronger and more resilient in the most adverse situations that we face. If we can direct and channel the activity of the mind, away from fears and the self sabotaging ideas of the ego and desire, we then have a better chance to hear the call of the higher mind or the buddhi. This can be described as awakening to the innate wisdom of the heart, in other words to get out of our heads and into the feelings of the heart.
This is the intelligence that resides within me and within you. If we take the current global crisis as an example, does the solution lie in the body or the mind of those whose decisions affect us all?
If you reflect on any of the relationships you have, how does it feels when someone lets you down or doesn't show up for you? How a lover, friend or colleague can easily trigger negative thought patterns and you spin off, out of centre. In these relationship it is easy to see the drama that ensues, it’s easy to blame a-n-other.
When we decide to commit to this relationship with ourselves, even if its 10 mins each day, it is an important step. When we practice Yoga postures, we are essentially choosing the body as our method of concentration, the field of awareness, we are placing our focus and attention on the sensations that arise which draw our attention back to our centre. The breath as the most important tool for concentration because it shifts us from a reactive fear based state to a more relaxed state where we can create new ways of being. Focusing on the breath unites the movement of prana and apana, the inhale and the exhale, uniting these opposing patterns of the body becomes a sacred union , a marriage of the male and female qualities of our being, the yin with the yang or shakti and the shiva energy.
Any self practice which focuses on body and breath can be a highly transformative tool, shifting the activity of the mind and become more feeling centred.
By making this commitment , we can then observe the habits of the mind and how it will convince you to stay distracted, with this important task, and that endless list of ‘to do’s. This is how we get to know ourselves, how we build a better relationship with ourselves.
In this now moment, we call the present, are we ready to practice. Sutra 1.1 Athayogaanusasanam
Perhaps set yourself a task to commit every day for 14 start with only 10 mins of breath work and 10 mins asana as an experiment to observe what shows up.
Breath work can simply be sitting up in bed before sleep or when you awake, just listening and observing how the breath moves into the belly and allow it to release without control. Asana can be a simple sun salute and Savasana. If you can do more great, the important thing is your honesty with your self (satya) and what games the mind plays. Please keep a daily journal of the obstacles it will help you to understand the obstacles described by Patanjali in sutra 31and 32.