Please return your seat to its upright soulful position

woman's soul in a treeAfter about a half a year of introspection mixed with a shift in intention after going through yoga teacher training, I recently decided to unplug and get away from my environment for a few days to just “sit with myself.”  As a nation of stimulus addicts, we’re often unaware of how promiscuous we are with our senses in an effort to avoid being with ourselves.   Televisions, computers, smartphones, iPads, DVRs have invaded our consciousness within the last decade with such vigor that it has become quite unsettling.

These technological means we use to ‘distract’ ourselves have created a cycle of addiction like caffeine, and we no longer know how to just ‘be.’  We aren’t comfortable in our own company alone.  In fact, when we do have everything turned off, we fill the void with an incessant inner monologue that can very quickly spin us up into a state of fear.

So, I got away from the electromagnetic storm of the city, and found myself in a remote town in the north Georgia mountains  with no telephone, no television, no stereo.  Just quiet and me.   Continue reading

There’s no escaping the manuscript behind my brow…

woman with furrowed browBehind my brow, there’s a virtual manuscript that my mind starts to read and attach to when I’m “trying” to be still.  Sometimes during those few minutes before sleep when I’m laying down with my eyes closed or when I’m sitting in silence to meditate, there’s a full editorial meeting involving checklists, drama, and fictitious scenarios at work that my mind plays out.   It loves the activity, the intrigue, the thought movement.   My brain can flip through the pages with vigor.

Sometimes the manuscript turns into a full fledged movie, and my brain gets sucked in like a kid in front of a television.  Even as this is happening, I’m observing like a producer, and another voice sneaks in the back door and says, “hey we should be meditating here.”

Throughout my life, I’ve struggled with mind-made movies that inevitably result in anxiety, worry, fear, or guilt.    As life is an ever evolving work in progress, I still experience this now and again.  If I’m not careful to bring my awareness back to my breath, back to the moment, I can go down a “Watership Down” sized rabbit hole that leaves me exhausted with a headache.  I have the subtle crease in my brow from years of furrowing to show for it.

What’s a yogini to do?  Accept and surrender.  Accept with open arms who you are, mental checklists and all, and listen.  Surrender to the present moment without expectation or interpretation, and sit with the feelings that you’re experiencing.  Without closing your eyes, scrunching your brow and trying to disappear and avoid the feelings and activity, be with it.   Skip the Xanax, skip the escape and surrender.

If thoughts come in, imagine that they are clouds floating in and out of your mind independent of you.  You are not your thoughts.  You are not the manuscript.

Namaste.

– Your Charmed Yogi

 

Photo credit: Basket Case Stock

So, I Closed My Eyes, & Practiced from the Inside Out

women-eyes-closedLately, I’ve become more connected with my personal yoga practice than ever before.  Rather than dutifully unrolling my mat, going through the same warm ups, sun salutations, and 4 or 5 standing postures for 40 minutes, I start in savasana and just listen.

While I  feel good after my morning asana and meditation, there have been times (admittedly), that I had to muscle myself a bit to get my butt on the mat. Of course, once I begin, I know why I’m there.  My body always feels more alive after the physical part of my practice.  But, recently, my meditations were becoming more and more thought-filled. I’m talking, unstoppable-freight-train types of thoughts.  This wasn’t the meditation I’d fallen in love with during teacher training.  So, I stepped back, paused, took in a full breath and saw clearly what was happening. My routine was becoming…well, routine.  I was going through the motions like I used to at church mass. I wasn’t really practicing yoga.

I realized that I wasn’t getting much more than physical wellness out of my practice, because I wasn’t giving much more than my physical presence. And, my meditations were so full of distraction, that by the time my “zen alarm” went off, my mind was even more chaotic, as if I’d been watching television. Something had to change. Continue reading