There are times, usually when I’m feeling particularly vulnerable or depleted or tested, that I wish I had a flip-top head. So I could just open it up, and pull my brain out, and wash it off or wring it out, or hold it up to the sun so there would be no way to forget. No way to get lost in obsessive thoughts or worries, no way to waste precious moments. This is the point of the yoga practice–to quiet the storm that rages in the mind when it is left unchecked. To master your mind so it’s your servant, and not the other way around. And this is important, because so much of what we think about is utterly meaningless. I say this to you after twenty years of yoga practice, and I don’t just mean asana. All eight limbs, and a lot of time with my asana on a meditation cushion, too. The mind can be so beautiful when it’s working for you. But it can be a total nightmare if you don’t have the reigns. And we call it a practice because you’ll never be done. It gets a lot easier. In yoga, there are so many analogies for the mind-it’s like a wild horse, or a monkey jumping from branch to branch. And where your awareness goes, your energy follows. If your mind is all over the place, you scatter your energy and deplete yourself. A lot of the practice has to do with training your mind so you can direct your energy. So you can choose one thought over another. So you can be present. But if I don’t get enough rest, or I’m scrambling with two kids and a teaching schedule and a business and a blog (:)), I can spin as well as anyone else. Catching yourself is the thing. Recognizing that you’ve gone somewhere else so you can bring yourself back and breathe into right now. This is why, again and again, I’m so grateful for my yoga practice. Yoga chitta vritti nirodhah: When you’re in a state of yoga, all mental misconceptions, disturbances, ups and downs (vrittis) that can exist in the mind (chitta) disappear or cease (nirodhah). Yoga is a process of wiping your lens clean so you can see clearly.
When we spin we lose ourselves and we aren’t living. We’re missing the present, and mucking it up with old tapes we replay about whatever. Ways we’ve been wronged, fears about the future, scenarios we play out in detail, that may never, ever come to pass, daydreams or fantasies or obsessions. The mind will do mental gymnastics over the same course countless times if you don’t take a stand and say, “Enough!” Because it IS boring. All those redundant thoughts and sad stories and old anger and worries about the future that we stoke and feed. It’s dreadfully devoid of light or inspiration, and it’s debilitating and unproductive. Thoughts that weaken you and make you feel sick, or anxious, or disappointed in yourself, or furious with other people, are not going to get you anywhere good. You have twenty-four hours in a day. Maybe eight of them are spent sleeping if you’re really lucky. So you have sixteen hours that could be beautiful, even if everything isn’t perfect right now. In fact, even if everything is falling apart right now, even if you’re suffering a piercing loss, you could open to the beauty of having loved so deeply. Or you could open to despair or fear or grief or rage, if it’s current. There’s no point trying to push away from you anything that’s real, that’s happening. You cannot bend reality to your will. You can only respond to what is, or distract yourself with old tapes.
Since you can’t open up your head and massage your brain, you might as well explore techniques to quiet it. It’s essential if you ever want to experience peace. I define peace as the space between your thoughts. You know what lives in that space? Awareness, gratitude, grace, strength, your intuition, connection and understanding. Living without those things is living in darkness, it’s like walking into walls. Do you know how people recoil at the idea of their thoughts being projected onto a screen for everyone to see? It’s because so much of it is chatter. Judgement. Lies. If you want to change your life, clean up your mind. When the old songs start playing, pick up the needle and change the record. Tune in to right now. There’s absolutely nothing boring about it. Sending you love! Ally