I started going to a yoga class a little over 3 months ago. The impact it has had on me has been profound. I have yet to miss a week and have no plans to miss anytime soon - I love it too much!
Someone asked me recently: "Susan, your comments about yoga and meditation interest me a lot, because I cannot see myself "shutting off my brain" long enough for emptiness to enter and for me to be calm."
Honestly, I think that meditation and yoga are probably MOST important for those of us who think we cannot "shut off" our brain! To be honest, I believe that most of us are scared to even try. I know I was. I loved my thoughts so much and the idea that they made me, *ME*, that the thought of losing them scared me. When I felt passionate and ON FIRE and was sharing with the world what I thought was the "right way to be"... well, honestly, that felt pretty awesome! I didn't want to lose that feeling. I didn't want to run out of ideas or things to write about. I didn't want to stop caring about what I thought was important.
But the truth is that as long as you are reacting and pointing out what others are doing wrong (which is kinda what we do when we feel very passionate), you can never truly practice the most important things- kindness, listening, mindfulness... presence.
Anyway, my fear has kind of come true lately - I just really don't feel the intense need to write any more. I've read that it happens to other people too. I think it is partly due to doing yoga/meditation every week. For a couple of months (since around the time that the world lost Robin Williams) I literally could feel my heart aching - it was raw and open and a day wouldn't go without something causing it to throb in my chest. I wasn't exactly depressed - I mean I was carrying on quite well with a busy schedule, maybe even keeping up a little better than usual - but my emotions were always just barely below the surface. I feel like I've clawed my way back up to more stable ground with laughter, gratitude, and mindfulness.
Last week Thay, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, experienced a severe brain hemorrhage. Last night I downloaded a free digital copy of his work "Be Free Where you Are." I read much of it immediately. It is beautiful and profound. He opens with a poem he wrote during the war in Vietnam right after a town was bombed and destroyed by U.S forces. Here is the poem:
I hold my face in my two hands.
He talks about how angry he was, but that anger is what makes us suffer. He talks about taking care of his anger. He also talks about what he means by freedom: "By freedom I mean freedom from afflictions, from anger, and from despair. If you have anger in you, you have to transform the anger in order to get your freedom back. If there is despair in you, you need to recognize that energy and not allow it to overwhelm you. You have to practice in such a way that you transform the energy of despair and attain the freedom you deserve - the freedom from despair."
Yes. This hit a sweet spot for me. I know in my head that despair is not really helpful or useful to anyone - and yet when you see so many terrible things happening every day in the world, most by our own human hands - it is easy to despair.
Then today I read an article called, "Our Children Need More Than Our Anger" and it really clicked in with everything else. I need to go to bed so I can't elaborate more right now - but I really highly recommend reading both Thich Nhat Hanh's work and this article.
So I'm still thinking. But I'm also being more mindful - when I driving to teach I put on some classical music, see the beautiful fall colors, and notice my breathing. I'm trying to be better at really listening and hearing my children and husband when they are talking to me - even if I'm feeling tired.
And my mind isn't quite so busy. Turns out it wasn't really scary at all. Turns out it's pretty nice.
Wife, mom, information and peace seeker.