“Take time to calm your mind. Focus on your breath and allow yourself to connect with the great silence within”. – Taken from Susan Woldman’s Yoga Path Card Deck
Today I am inspired again by a woman who has inspired me so often over the past year. Susan Woldman. She created the Yoga Path Card Deck that was a catalyst for me as I began to write last winter. Each card has an inspirational word and quote connected to a yoga pose. Today I am brought back to the card on meditation.
I think meditation is a word that may sound strange and overwhelming to some people. I am sure it conjures up images of sitting in lotus pose for hours and having an out of body experience. If people think this is what meditation is, and only is, then it can be quite inaccessible in their minds. Just like yoga seems inaccessible in a lot of people’s minds when they may only know it as this asana practice where people put themselves into the shape of pretzels.
What I have learned over the years is that meditation starts with just living in, sitting in, laying in silence. It may be for a minute or two and it may extend for an hour if you feel good about that. I think that the practice of being able to clear our minds or thoughts, worries and busy stuff is getting more and more difficult and therefore becomes more and more important. Don’t our minds need rest just like our bodies need rest? And I feel that our bodies get rest too when we are able to clear our minds. Tension can drain from the body when we relieve our minds – our head, neck, shoulders, back etc.
Is it just me, or does it seem that we live in a culture that does not value rest. Any amount of rest is deemed lazy. We have to be going and going and producing and producing and making money and creating business and the longer hours you work the more successful you will be or at least the more highly you will be looked upon by others. Especially women…we are admired for juggling it all. I hear people praise women all the time who have never ending busy lives. Well that has at least been my experience living in the North East of the US. It is a very very different way of life than what I was exposed to for the first 28 years of my life in Atlantic Canada – before moving here. Parts of it are exhilarating…because I have tons of energy and love to go go go – but it can also be exhausting and depleting.
Why are we so invested in Keeping our minds busy? – I am going to venture into controversial territory and say that sometimes we don’t like to be alone with ourselves and our thoughts because it causes us to face things we try to avoid so we “busy up” our lives. If we are constantly occupied and going going going – or have people around us or have things to do then we don’t “have” to look inward to see that we may not be living congruent to our values, our dreams, if we are not happy with ourselves or our life for some reason…or maybe we don’t even like ourselves that much. At the end of the day
though avoiding all of those things does not make them go away. SO it feels like we maybe are a culture of “avoid it as long as you can to put off the immediate discomfort of dealing with something…until it blows up and we have to face it”. How does that make any sense? Well biologically I remember learning about it in psychology during undergrad I think – the pleasure pain principle or something of the sort. We move towards what brings us pleasure and away from what causes us pain.
So if “avoiding” is the way to go then let’s go. If we like to avoid things then let’s avoid avoidance….let’s face life, face ourselves…sit with ourselves and relax, go inward, stop for a few moments a day to slow things down. In fact it may help us start loving ourselves and being able to face these things we avoid by helping us regain strength!
It is not necessary to sit in lotus pose to meditate – sit I’m whatever position is comfortable to you where your back is straight up. You can sit back against a wall for support too.
If you haven’t meditated before you lay want to try doing it with relaxing music in the background or with a guided meditation from a CD, iTunes or however you get your music.