Have you ever wondered why its so hard to be still, to be quiet, to be really left alone with our thoughts? I know I sure have.
How can this be so hard?
I’ve been a go-go-go person for as long as I can remember, filling every day and every space with things to do and learn and people and places to see. And it seemed like the only times I slowed down was when I was sick or injured, like someone from above tapped me on the shoulder and said : “ Girl we need to bench you for a week or two”, and needless to say, like my favorite professional athletes I’d get P*SSED OFF. The thought of sitting still drove me crazy, nevermind quieting my overactive mind ( yes, its an actual diagnosis, I think too much, but I digress).
So, it made me think ( see the pattern…. ) – WHY AM I LIKE THIS? Is there something wrong with me? But the more and more I talked to people I realized how hard it was for all of us to be still, to find the silence around us, but also within us. I know we are all well aware that we’re bombarded 24/7 with news and images, tiny dings on our phone that pull our focus, pets, school, children, family, work and heck, even a good thunderstorm can overwhelm our senses. It’s the perfect storm of sensory overload. And if I learned anything in quarantine last year, when you are forced to be physically still, the mind will still race if left unchecked.
So- what can we do?
YOGA! In Patanjali’s yoga sutras, he defines yoga as “ chitta vritti nirodha” which means, “yoga is the removing of the fluctuations of the mind”.
So that’s the what- but HOW?
Day by day, each time you get on your mat, just by focusing on your breath, you are beginning to still the mind by focusing on one point. This is called Dharana, one of the eight limbs of yoga, which prepares you for stillness and meditation. And as you practice, hopefully daily, you will begin to find stillness with your breath. And from there you can take it off the mat. Focus on your breath when you’re dealing with family or coworkers, focus on your breath before bed instead of reaching for your phone, and DEFINITELY focus on your breath the next time you get cut off driving down the road. IT WORKS!
I practice focusing on my breathing all the time. It helps me sleep, has calmed me down before speaking in front of 3000 people or 1 person, and brings me a sense of calmness and stillness I’ve never known. Even just focusing on making your inhales and exhales of equal length will go so far in helping you focus, and when you start getting comfortable there, take it up a notch and begin a meditation practice. Yes, even you, you can do it! If the girl with the brain that turned so much it woke her up every hour can do it, so can you!
I’m a work in progress, but I can tell you this, if I didn’t have my practice every day, being sidelined on crutches this year would have been unbearable. But it wasn’t. I got to experience a new way to practice yoga, I got to enjoy receiving help from others, and I got to enjoy just BEING for a while. Try it, I bet you’ll like it. All you need is a few minutes a day and a comfy place to sit. It’s the best low tech/high reward way to find stillness. And isn’t that better than the alternative?