Tuesday, May 20, 2014
Sometimes in our lives as a spouse, parent, friend, daughter, son, employee or boss we face such challenging circumstances and we feel like things are falling apart. We all have these moments and they can take our breath away. What I’ve learned over the years is that the practices that I have dedicated to myself to, become the tools and supports that I can turn to and use in these challenging times. For some the tools are running, for some it is art. For some it is time in nature and for other it is writing or prayer or a support group. We all need tools that help us stay centred and focused and calm to deal with whatever challenge we are being given. For me, when times get tough I rely on my yoga and meditation practices. Turning my mind, heart and intention within is helpful. Sometimes all I can do is build my little nest of bolsters and blankets and prop myself up to sit on my yoga mat. A favourite meditation of mine is the mountain meditation which is all about sitting with a beautiful posture – a long, open spine. Some people need to sit on a chair or stand to be comfortable to have a long spine, for others being seated on a cushion works (all are good postures). When I begin the meditation I sit quietly, proudly, nobly, solidly and completely passive and still. I invoke the image of the mountain and I see it sitting in its majesty as life go’s on around it. Clouds come and go. Snow falls. Birds fly. People climb the mountain. Trees grow. Wind blows. And the mountain is unmoved. Water flows through the caves of the mountain. Animals hide in the caves. The mountain doesn’t move. It remains present, still and witnesses all of it. In the same way, in my own body thoughts, emotions and physical sensations come and go and I stay present with them. I stay quiet and still like the mountain and watch as it all move around me. It has taken me years of doing this meditation to become more mountain like. And it has taken years of doing it when things are going well to now have it as tool when challenges come up. People often say that they don’t understand why breathing is so important in yoga, or why we meditate. What I know from my own practice of almost 20 years, is that I’ve stayed dedicated to learning and trying and practicing, and now in difficult situations I have these tools to help. Yoga and meditation are really practices of learning how to be aware, present and relaxed and being able to observe without judgment or expectations. A teacher said to me “your voice is the voice of the mountain”. What a wonderful image to invoke in challenging conversation or circumstance. I can be mountain like. I can open into my own majesty, stillness and unshakable equanimity. And that has to be helpful for my own health and the health of those who I am engaged with. Of course, I’m not the perfect mountain all the time. But I hold the intention. And it helps.