Last week in a class I was teaching, I was talking about how the focal points or “drishtis” in the yoga practice are really the difference between having some power over how you respond to what’s happening around you, or not so much. If you have a physical yoga practice, then you already know that there’s a place where you direct your gaze in each pose. It might be over your front fingertips and toward the horizon, as you would in Warrior 2. It might be toward your extended fingertips in side angle pose. The idea is that you’re taking in a little less information from the world around you, so you can spend some time focusing on the world that exists within you, and hopefully practice in a way that creates more peace, steadiness, compassion, patience and awareness, so that when you leave your mat, that’s what you have to offer up.
When you train your mind the way you’d train any muscle, it strengthens. The ability to direct your gaze and thereby your energy and attention is the same skill you use when you have a meal with a close friend in a chaotic restaurant, but manage to focus on your friend, and not all the business happening around you. It’s the same ability you need when you sit down to work on your passion project, and are able to focus on that for a few hours instead of getting on social media. It’s also the tool you use when you actively choose one thought over another, which is like a superpower when it comes to living this life. We all know that change is the only thing we can count on, and yet we tend to resist it to varying degrees. The more we contract against the reality of constant flux, the more we suffer.
Sometimes the voice inside our heads sounds like Eeyore. Things are happening that we don’t like or didn’t want, and there he goes: “Life is hard and no one loves me, and other people get the breaks, but I don’t.” Tigger on the other hand, is full of enthusiasm, and he would say, “Sometimes life is hard, and sometimes people are confusing, but that’s okay! It’s just a tough moment, it isn’t a tough life, and I’ll bounce back from this! What’s for lunch?” In the class I was teaching, I was saying that having an inner Tigger is a lot easier than having an inner Eeyore, and part of shifting and creating a positive inner dialogue has to do with working the focal points on your mat (or during seated meditation). That way, when when your Eeyore pipes up, you notice, and you can say, “Simmer down Eeyore” before he sends you spiraling down an abyss that isn’t going to help you deal with whatever is at hand. The “noticing” is also a key element, because sometimes Eeyore is our default setting, and we don’t even realize we have the power to shift it. Outlook isn’t everything in life; certainly there are devastating and heartbreaking experiences we have, loss that feels incomprehensible, circumstances that would challenge the most optimistic among us, but there is no doubt that working on your general viewpoint so it’s more open and responsive, and less reactive and resistant, is a game-changer.
One of the people in that Eeyore/Tigger class showed up a few days later with a little gift bag, and one of the best cards I’ve ever received. When I opened the bag, this is the shirt I found, which she made for me. If you have a loud inner Eeyore, please allow me to tell you that you can change that (I had one for years!), and that life feels much better that way. If you want to work on it with me, I’m about to teach an online course that’s all about embracing change, you can find out more here: http://blog.yogisanonymous.com/embracing-change-bootcamp/
Sending you love, and a shot of Tigger,