Thursday, October 17, 2013

The gift of opening to life...

It takes a real willingness to open our hearts, minds and bodies to life and to connecting with others. To be open to both joy and pain. Both are temporary and in their own way create suffering. When in pain our tendency is to clench like a tight fist and in doing so we intensify the pain. Or we begin to catastrophize about how awful the situation we are going through is and when we look to the future we imagine the worst. On the other side of the coin are the things we long for, to feel happy, joyful, connected and alive. So what possible suffering can joy cause? When we are in connection with all of life, with our body, breath and heart we feel expansive and life is wonderful. At the same time we may be wondering and worrying about how long this being joyful is going to last. When this happens we aren't fully present to experience this moment and this one and this one...

I sometimes experience this in teaching yoga. At the beginning of the practice I am aware of the worries, concerns and things to do. As I arrive in the moment I begin to connect with my body, breath, heart and my surroundings. I am in the moment and at times there is a genuine feeling of peace and calmness that flows through me. At the same time there are moments where I find myself drifting off into thought and this is a reflection of life outside the yoga studio. There can be a real longing to stay in this peaceful place forever but this isn't realistic. Instead, if I can really be present to enjoy the practice and accept that there will be times I drift off into thought then I am not at war with what is happening, lost in judgment or wishing it didn't have to end. It's also important to acknowledge that judging things, experiences, myself and others is a natural part of being human. The real question is can I shift from judgment into connecting with what lies beneath the judgment, can I bring compassion to this getting caught up in judgment, or lost in thought?

Mindfulness isn't about being present to life in every single moment of the day. It is about bringing awareness to what is happening and arriving back home to the body, heart and mind when we've journeyed into the land of thinking, planning and worrying. Taking the time to reconnect with what is happening right here and now. This practice helps us to see more clearly, to be open to live and feel alive.

Today, pause and take time to connect with both your internal and external world. Read the following and then make a commitment to practice this 3 minute mindfulness practice:
  • Feel the ground beneath your feet, the chair or cushion supporting you...
  • Gently close your eyes and take 3 full breaths...
  • On the in breath feel the expansion that happens, the places in your body where you feel the breath the most, on the out breath feel the emptying out, the letting go...
  • On your next breath scan gently through your body and soften the places that carry tension...
  • Allow your breath to be natural and see if you can stay connected to the natural rhythm of the breath...
  • Notice when your mind wanders and bring your  attention back to the breath or back to sensations...
  • End with another three full breaths in and out
  • Bring your palms together in front of the heart and end with these words of loving kindness
  • May all beings be free from suffering
  • May you be free from suffering
  • May I be free from suffering

Notice how you feel and know that you can incorporate these moments of mindfulness throughout your day to help you be present.

May you be well
May you be happy
May you be peaceful


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