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Practice

Tuesday, September 17, 2019


This article comes to you from Beausoleil Island which is located a 15-minute boat ride from Honey Harbour in Georgian Bay. I’ve been working at a yoga and hiking retreat this weekend and a yoga and meditation retreat last weekend. I’ve been coming to this place for 23 years and every time I arrive on the island I am reminded that the rock beneath me is the teacher and I am the assistant. The rock is quiet, still, steady, stable and so beautiful. When I close my eyes I connect with that quiet and stillness, and in that moment I am present. Present to all the beauty that is around me, and in me and often I feel a sense of peace and ease. And that settles my whole body, mind and spirit in that moment.  

Throughout the weekends I remind myself over and over again to sense the rock and the stillness. A teacher once said to me that the “stillness that is in me, can sense the stillness that is around me.” I practice observing, sensing and feeling the rock without adding any stories or analysis or predictions. Just this is how it is right now.

The rock is the foundation for the weekend and the practices of yoga, meditation and the hiking. As I teach simple yoga poses I encourage the participants to keep coming back to the present moment. To be the quiet awareness that is observing the rock, the bay, the pine trees, the birds, the sky, the mushrooms, the salamanders, the turtles and the snakes. Present to all the beauty that is in this moment. And then tuning into beauty that is within. The breath, the sensations in the body, the sounds in the background and the thoughts as they come and go. And that intention of sensing the present moment can settle the whole nervous system. It takes a lot of practice to be in “the now,” the present moment.

The mind will naturally start to ask questions, or leave the island and go back to work or start planning the next visit etc. It’s the nature of the mind to leave the present and so we just accept that as part of the practice. We congratulate ourselves when we notice the mind has gone elsewhere and gently bring it back to quietly sensing the rock, or the breath or the fingertips. The now. I’ve been meditating for over 30 years and it is still a practice that sometimes is easier and sometimes more challenging depending on what is going on in my life. I’ve come to accept the ebbs and flows.

I was on the island when Bianca Andreescu won the U.S. Open. A friend sent us an update to let us know that she had won. We told all the participants and everyone jumped up and down and cheered for her. Her victory is a result of thousands and thousands of hours of practice. It is very inspiring. I recognize that my yoga and meditation practices remind me on a daily basis to slow down and pay attention to all the beauty around me, and in me. And it takes practice, especially in difficult times. It is Hike Haliburton this weekend and it is a great opportunity to be outside and present to all the beauty that we live in. Danny Michel will perform at the Northern Lights Performing Arts Pavilion on Friday night (tickets at the Haliburton County Folk Society website). He is an optimistic, energetic really fun guy who has thousands of hours of musical practice. His show will be great.

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