Finding and Returning to Center and in that, living in Love. AKA utilizing our great ability to lose our center to find it again.
Consistency. This is why we have a home practice.
Consistency in understanding the optimal way that we feel. In understanding the natural way that we respond. In the way we move. The pauses we take. Cultivating the best natural tone of our voice. Finding and rediscovering the depth of our true way to exist, of what yogis call our “center.”
Our world is a changing environment. And we have challenges. Some of the challenges are even quite familiar to us… self judgment, health, job, family, relationships, money, home, politics, time management, etc. that we would prefer to be ‘just so’ to feel safe, but alas, there are energies beyond our requests at work. These can be particularly challenging because they create a groove in our energy and our emotional systems and with just the little nudge of… ‘it’s happening again’ can rocket us right to that place of reaction.
We can feel our gut tightening, we can feel the jaw ready to open up or clamp shut, our neck or back aching, our breath becoming shallow. We want to feel more capable to move through this challenge, yet when we begin from this place of depletion not only are we not in our best state to handle what has happened, we have actually allowed the outside circumstances to cause us to stress to the point of putting ourselves in peril. Stress harms our bodies, our relationships, our outlooks and our ability to love ourselves and others.
A person who is continually stressed by outside circumstances and is without a practice that helps them bring themselves out of a stressed state, sadly, can continue down the spiral and the world seems to be a place that pushes them further and further into contraction. Eventually it can feel hopeless to make connections and come back to love and the flow of life.
Another person who has continual outside stressors and who has a practice for coming back to center can practice radical acceptance with outer circumstances, use them to create more clarity and vitality within them so that they can serve and help make the world around them better by either directly helping with change or being a light in the darkness. They also over time will begin to make choices that are more in alignment with this truth so that their days are filled with much less stress and much more ease and grace with and a surplus of joy.
When we sit and meditate and practice our asana (yoga poses) on a regular basis, our reactions shift to responses, which are much softer. We might even take a breath before speaking, we might add an extra dose of kindness and even empathy to the situation. Patience increases, hope is abundant.
Mediation empowers us in the most humble way.
Peace begins with me.
My perspective creates my world.
Another person’s state can only help me be more understanding and loving and also create boundaries and offer help if it’s a situation I can help directly, or offer loving prayers and support quietly and allow them (and perhaps us) our space.
Peace begins with me.
With my breath, with my commitment and re-commitment (yes we will forget, it’s our nature) to moving towards love, to forgive, to make wise choices.
To do this in a way that feels TRUE we need to feel it inside of ourselves first. Then it is a comfort; a place to live in and return to over and over when we get out of alignment. A soothing, reassuring, nurturing state of being that serves the whole.
What I have found to be true is that a regular practice on the mat offers us regularity in being in our most natural state. And that natural state stands the test of time; day to day as the details of life move and change and the expected happens and the unexpected happens and the things that used to ‘hook’ you still happen and we move through them or around them with grace.
I have said over and over that yoga has saved my life and I guess what I mean by that is that I can trust that (even though each day I am learning) right now I am exactly where I should be and who I should be, right here right now. The external details will keep evolving and I will continue to grow and yet the core of my being will continue to set into this lovely place of center that simply cannot be rocked or doubted or changed and yet remains so softly open to life and to love and to learning and expanding that I am able to see and welcome changes in myself and others. It’s a humble yet comforting place to live.
Do we still have cringe-worthy behavioral moments? Well, as my own life is evident to – absolutely. Daily.
Recognizing that is even more of a reason to have a practice that helps us feel that misalignment, return to center, breathe, own it, speak to it, learn from it, forgive and move forward. We are less likely to do it again so quickly or in that same manner and I will also say that over time it just begins to feel different.
There was a study done that tracked yogis vs. non-yoga practitioners and their responses to being startled. In the study, the people who practiced yoga were just as reactive immediately but then returned to their natural state much more quickly; like twice the rate. This yoga practice will help us find the lifeline (naturally, on our own) to bring us back. It also gives us the softness of heart and the openness of eyes to recognize that we may have (probably did) affected others on the way, so we humbly address it, allow forgiveness and move on the wiser and the humbler.
That is the power of Grace. I am doing the best that I can, while being very clear about what that ‘best state’ is…my ‘home base’, my center. May I reconnect to my center over and over and aim to connect with others in that space as well.
Create the time for practice, lean into love over and over, allow your efforts to be infused with your highest connection to your purpose. We are returning again and again to that easeful state of faith, action and surrender and in that we feel connected and that is where the love is. Nothing could keep me from my yoga practice, even if for that day it simply means looking up at the beautiful star that is awaiting the sunrise that is out in front of me as I write this on my front porch and feeling, really feeling, its beauty in complete awe and gratitude.
When we are meditating and we practice being present with what we are doing, thoughts pop up to distract us. When these thoughts interrupt us, we very gently bring ourselves back to our meditation. It’s a wonderful exercise for practicing softness when our day has a surprise element, or when it’s even an expected undesired element – we gently bring ourselves back to our center and work with it rather than against it. When our mind’s distraction pops up in meditation, we literally practice not letting it hook our attention (“oh there is that thought again, why is it there, I have requested that it not be there, now my meditation is ruined, I am so upset about this, I am going to talk about this all day and get validation that the mind should not have distracted me”…et. al.).
Our practice in meditation is the accept the distraction and allow it to be a tool to help us come back to our state of being (“I am thinking of my to-do list, pause, maybe smile… right, just come back, this time is for me and my self care allows me to serve more fully ultimately, thank you thought for helping me recognize that I need to refocus, so back in I go now, breathing and feeling my alignment with even more clarity…” – something like that).
The same goes for when we are participating in our life and our actions are completely the opposite of our most clear self – recognize it to ourselves, take responsibility with others (I am so very sorry, please allow me to try that again, that must have felt horrible), allow them to forgive us and for us to forgive ourselves, become sharper in our remembrance of who we are and how we move in our relationships (including the one with ourselves) and move forward with more clarity. And…when someone in return in not in their best place, allow them the opportunity to do the same and you the opportunity to respond in kind. If the person is not practicing and is not able to do this, then we can still practice the reciprocal act of forgiveness, it just might have some more clear boundaries blended with the reminder that “peace begins with me.”
When we are practicing our yoga postures, we learn to be focused on our efforts of the alignment, staying with how we are placing the various individual parts of the body to work in unison to support the whole. A wonderful thing to strive for in our daily interactions. We also are embodying a feeling of self compassion and non-judgment. The fact that within each successful experience in each pose that it can be moved into more deeply still and also that challenging poses exist at all allows us the opportunity to be humbly encouraged rather than critical. If we do find ourselves judging our own ability to say, balance on one leg while reaching the other one overhead (hello…let’s please be empathetic to the challenge in this) we can softly respond to our wobbles and falls.
We practice being patient, we practice being kind, we practice being humble, we practice being grateful.
We embody our strength and our softness. We find our center. And it is from there that we live.
Almost always or at least frequently. And when we forget….oh, how lovely, how life saving, to be able to recognize that we have simply lost our center and there is a an accessible way back. Take a gentle, full, loving breath…if you can, take a seat, perhaps say a mantra, move a little…if the moment requires you to just come back to center in your body, heart and mind as best as you can in a ‘normal’ position, then just take that sweet breath and move into your heart. It works. Especially when you practice. It really really works.
With all my love from the center of my heart, from the center of my being. May you practice bringing yourself there so you can receive this in love. Jodi