By Genell Vashro Huston
The fall has fully arrived. Routines are being established and drinking tea, snuggled by the fire is sounding more inciting. As mother nature cycles into a time of quiet and rest, hopefully you too are are finding yourself transitioning from the business of summer and back to school into a more grounded, internal, and restful you. This time of year naturally creates a more conducive environment for reflection, and I encourage you to ask yourself how you are entertaining the practice of yoga, both on and off your mat.
Though I have not spent much time stretching in down dog on a sticky mat over the last 10 weeks, I have certainly felt myself deeply holding onto the practice of yoga as a way to stay landed, content, honest, and in truth. In Pantanjali’s Yoga Sutras, he discusses yoga, or that state in which fluctuations (or agitations) of the mind are resolved, can be achieved by practice (or discipline) and detachment. In other words, when the mind is quiet, there is a certain freedom that can be felt and experienced. Being able to recognize the patterns of the mind can help to liberate one from a downward spiral of pity, pain, and sorrow. We simply have to be aware enough in any moment to determine whether or not a given thought, feeling or attachment serves our greater good. Then, we must choose wisely the experience we would like to create; an experience of ease, pleasure and enjoyment or an experience of anger, annoyance, or any number of negative states.
As I dive fully into a very demanding time in my life, I am so grateful that I have grown to discover the practice of yoga that moves beyond postures on the mat. After a sleepless night, I have had the ability to watch my mind move through assumptions, judgments of how I should be and what I should have, stories such as “I am so tired I cannot function,” “this will never end,” “I wish my husband had boobs to help, he never helps, ” “I am less than.” When I mindfully choose to engage in practice (because, lets face it, I am not a superhero and it takes a lot of discipline to stay present in practice all the time) I have been able to push the pause button on these ideas and really feel into the truth of the moment. What results is me being stunned and able to (if even for a brief moment) realize that the truth of that moment is not that bad at all. Even though I did only sleep for a total of 3 hours, oddly enough, I do not feel that tired (at least not in that very moment). When asking myself, what is true right here and now, I have been surprised to find myself more energized and supported than the made up stories and ideas would have led me to believe.
The moments that have felt super challenging and just down right deflating are the times where I have allowed my mind to spiral downhill with these assumptive stories, “the laundry will never end,” “I will never sleep again,” “I have accomplished nothing today.” The agitations of the mind can be calmed by practice (discipline) and detachment. Working to let go, or detach, has also been forefront in my practice of yoga as I wade through this time in life. My laundry does not have to be folded a certain way (yes, this is something that drives me crazy, or let me rephrase, I have allowed to drive me crazy, working on letting that go), the dishes may be left on the counter over night, I might not always be right. Learning to really see what is essential and separate out that which is not essential does indeed help calm my mind.
Allowing myself to pause, or slow down my mind to really check in has been a powerful tool as I raise another child, manage a business, and strive for my own independence. The drama of it all seems to subside when I really check in, when I really wake up to what is.
My practice has been much less about how to get my foot to my head, and more about how to be disciplined to stay present and connected to the truth of what is in each moment. Be it cleaning up my sons blocks for the zillionth time that week, wiping up spit-up on my shirt, changing diapers, or responding to emails, my practice is learning how to stay present and mindful in all these actions giving each action full attention. That takes practice. Life takes practice.
The dance, or Lila, of life is constant. It can be hard. And just in that moment of feeling deflated, miracles happen, my baby coos or smiles, the sun comes out, a friend randomly shows up with an armful of homemade goods.
For most, miracles aren’t seen every day. But you want to know why? In order to recognize miracles, one must have the ability, in any moment, to take ordinary and make it extra-ordinary. As yogis, the moment we are able to make the ordinary come alive, light us up and turn us on, the extraordinary miracles will take care of themselves. Every breath, every touch, every step can be a miracle…if you simply let it.