Your hand opens and closes and opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralyzed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as bird wings.
As the air gets cooler, the light in the day gets shorter, pencils and notebooks fill the isles of the grocery stores, and the gords in the garden become abundant, it reminds us all we are collectively transitioning from one season to the next.
transition (noun): The process or a period of changing from one state or condition to another.
Be it seasonal transitions, transitions in relationships, vocations, locations, or transitions in our asana practice, the act of transitioning in and of itself is often missed, and instead our attention lays in the past or the future. As Rumi so simply but eloquently paints in his words, by staying awake and aware in the here and now we become witness to the magical things happening every moment.
I went for a walk to the beach with my now very independent toddler. Until yesterday, he was quite content riding in the wagon, wide eyed gazing out to the world, pointing, gooing and gawing at this and that. Yesterday he decided he wanted to walk on his own. Generally the walk from our home to the beach takes about 10 minutes, and is considered a “transition” getting from point A to B. Walking beside my 14-month year old son, he was able to help open my eyes and pull me into the present moment and the beauty that lay between home and the beach. Who knew there were so many awesome cracks in the gravel, metallic lawn ornaments waiting to be touched, airplanes flying tipping their wings to wave hello, cats nestled on driveways wanting to hear their purrs, circles to be had on the strips of lawn, squats to be done between boardwalks, and no right direction to get to the beach. We made it to the beach in about 45 min. He was thrilled to see the beach, clearly proud he walked there, but surprisingly just as excited to see the beach as he was the airplanes, cats, ornaments, and cracks.
The practice of staying present and not getting lost in the past or the future, is a practice of patience, will, dedication, and trust. The mind has the tendency to keep us busy, planning, reflecting, judging, more planning, more overanalyzing, on and on. When our minds are locked on they way things used to be or where we should be, we can completely forget where we actually are. Our asana practice helps us learn to become present to the ongoing multitude of transitions in our minds, our physical bodies, and our hearts, allowing us to sink into a space that just is. Perhaps you have felt your energy and attention shift just by simply coming to your mat and moving through some asanas (physical postures). The physical movements bring us into our body, the breath helps to further anchor our attention to the here and now which in turn creates space in our thoughts relaxing our mind. The more we practice deep listening, conscious movement, and being receptive to the breath, the more we can step closer to really witness what is true presence for our bodies, minds, and hearts. When this happens, we allow ourselves to be receptive to and witness the small miracles, the challenging hurdles, deep openings, and ultimately, allow our selves to just be in whatever it is that is coming up, trusting and knowing that “this too shall pass” and enjoying it while it lasts.
Next time you find yourself on your mat, imagine as if you were stepping on your mat for the first time. Allow your self to be and feel the poses like never before. As you move from pose to pose, perhaps slow down the transitions and begin to notice the subtle movements and how they impact your being (say your abs when moving from downdog to a lunge or your pinky toe when in triangle). Pause after you have done a pose before moving into the next, and just allow your body to feel and sink into the experience. In this way, allow yourself to embody presence in the many transitions that take place on your mat, be it physical, mental, emotional.
The last few weeks of summer are upon us. Here is to all of you stepping into your practice of presence as we move from season to season. With a beginners mind, sip in the early morning sunrises, bathe in the warm summer sun, eat plants right from our own Maine soil, hear the calls of the birds, the sounds of the boats on the water, witness kids playing in the middle of the day (and maybe even join in), see the color, lines, and greatness of a dear friend’s eyes, practice a lot of yoga on your mat, enjoy every ounce of every minute that is in each of the days as we transition from summer to fall.