One of the things I hear more as a yoga teacher than anything else is how people can’t get quiet. I hear “Oh, I could never do yoga, you have to be still.” Or “I tried yoga and walked out. It was too quiet.” And they tell ME this, the yoga teacher, with a sense of pride. As if, perhaps having a busy, cluttered mind is a symptom of higher intelligence or the focus and calm is beneath them. Or perhaps they really believe that it’s a privilege of the idle. I’m really not sure why we take such pride in our discomfort and dis-ease, but it seems to be an American obsession.
I won’t lie, it took me a while to learn to get quiet and focus my mind for an extended amount of time.
And I’ll be truthful, I haven’t completely mastered it. That’s right, the yogini’s mind wanders. I don’t care who you are, your mind sometimes wanders. I don’t know Thich Nhat Hahn, but I’m going to guess he even ocasionally has a stray nano-second. We all do. It’s not about having the perfect experience, it’s about what happens to your mind and where it goes. And it’s okay.
That’s the thing I didn’t know for years. It’s okay to let your mind go. It’s okay to focus it on something specific and it’s okay to empty it. There is no formula that signifies instant bliss. Most often I do what works best for me. And I have no end goal in mind. I just know that the more time I set aside to quiet my mind the more centered, productive and happy I feel. It’s not something I can really quantify or explain. I just know it works and before I knew that it would work I had to have faith that it would. I had to listen to others and believe what they told me. But I now know this. Meditation practicce is the most powerful tool I have to acheive the life I want.
Recently I listened to a great segment of Touching The Stillness, a Unity FM radio show. Now, I’ve never blogged about my spiritual beliefs before-except for yoga, and I won’t start now. I will say that I really like Rev. Paulette Pipe. She’s got a wonderful energy and calming nature and I like what she has to say. And I’ll also say that in my middle years I’ve learned that I don’t have to swallow everything. I can take what I need and leave the rest. And my inability to do this is my earlier years cost me the ability to experience wisdom from around the world.
The episode I’m referring to is Five Minutes To Grace, in which Rev. Robin Reiter explains that the real purpose of meditation is to connect with the universe and however you can get there is OK. We don’t have to find complete stillness. Now, I’ve done walking meditations and I know that my practice is meditation in movement, but I’d always suspected that there were other effective ways to get quiet.
And, of course, now that I’ve read and listened it makes too much sense. It’s just about stopping and taking a moment to find that connection. For me, that is often walking. I like being in nature. I like hearing, smelling, feeling the outside. When I walk I have about five minutes of list making and then eventually I settle down and my mind clears out. When I’m done-when my time is up I find my heart is open, my mind is clear and I have an energy that I never expected. I LOVE IT! I love that I can just do something so mindless and it takes me away and I get to beso mindful. I get to be in that connected universal presence.
So to all you naysayers-try a little silence. Whether you do it walking, singing, or mowing the lawn find the thing that leads you to a bit of silence and allows you to physically feel that connected energy of the universe. If it feels good do it again. Do it again and again. Don’t stop doing it. I promise it will change your life.