Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 9:01PM
All work and no play makes us all dull, right? And don’t we want to be shiny, happy people? During this crazy, hectic month I have the intention to remind my students (or family, or friends, or anyone impatiently standing in a long line) to hit the pause button and slllllow down. In yoga it’s called surrender and it requires awareness, gratitude, and acceptance.
But how is stillness even possible for a fraction of a moment? I know, I know, we have no TIME! We are late! There is so much to do! Here in the west, we are inundated with the need to hurry. When I lived in Kenya for a semester in college, my hurried-ness stuck out in their slower, more deliberate culture. I would walk down the street and the locals would say “haraka haraka (fast, fast) why are you always in such a hurry?” And what’s the answer in general? Because I’m not prepared to really accept what this day has to bring or what I’m actually capable of doing (without bringing about insanity). Because I don’t trust myself or God or the universe enough to show me what I need. Because my ego has set goals, standards, and expectations so high I have to doggedly try try try to get it all done (and then beat myself up when I fail). Talk about dull! If that’s your inner dialogue, it’s time to take a breath—and STOP.
The difference between me and those beautiful Kenyans? They were so grateful. They had so little and felt blessed for every moment in their lives. The idea is as old as time—we must stop and smell the roses. I mean, chances are if you’re on your computer reading this, you’re doing okay. Be aware of how you talk to yourself—and then turn that volume down. Conjure gratitude for your many blessings…suddenly traffic won’t seem so annoying.
Here’s an interesting fact: “…we are often doing more than one thing at a time—what is commonly called multitasking. The latest research indicates, however, that trying to do two or more things at the same time may not be good for you. Multitasking has been shown to impair cognitive skills (attention, short-and long-term memory, processing speed, visual and auditory processing, logic, and reasoning). The long term effect is that we can wind up atrophying parts of our brain and impairing its optimal functioning.”
Did you read that? Trying to do too many things at once can BREAK YOUR BRAIN people!
Here’s some good news: “Meditation does the opposite: it moves your brain in the direction of rest and focus. Thus, learning to still your mind is not only a vital link to inspiration and an abiding sense of peace, but also an incomparable method for increasing your capacity to solve real-life issues, increase insight, and help your brain assimilate all the random bits of information that it rarely has time to process. Meditation is an indispensable tool that improves memory, sharpens intellect, increases your ability to respond to stress, and even helps you process negative emotions such as grief, anger, and fear.”
But what if you’re not in the habit or practice or meditation? Don’t feel daunted, few of us can prioritize an hour a day for meditating. But let’s make it simple: Inhale. Exhale. There you go! When you’re in the car try turning off the radio and driving in quiet—every time you see a blinker, take a breath; every time you come to a stop sign or red light, start taking long, deep, even, sllllow breaths. Let your mind be still. That’s meditation. Standing in line? Create a mantra for yourself, repeat it over and over in your mind until it’s your turn: I will accept everything today with a smile; this is as good as it gets; I am grateful. That’s meditation! If you run on the treadmill (ugh), try counting your steps and listening the rhythm of your heart or the steady thud of your feet. Meditation.
Set the intention to give yourself a break this month—make it a habit you can carry into 2013. A tiny wee break—you deserve this. Be aware of how much you’re taking on and how you talk to yourself. Accept the effort you can give: accept what you are able to do and let the rest fall away. Allow your heart to fill with thankfulness for this life, your health and freedoms, family, friends and that lovely, amazing, life-giving breath. Anytime you can, hit that pause button and bring yourself back over and over to the direct experience of your body and your spirit breathing in this moment. Happy Holidays Yogis--feel my love and gratitude! xo G
**Quotes from Rod Stryker’s book The Four Desires—I highly recommend it!