I just came back from an amazing trip to Boulder, Colorado. It was a four day getaway that I’ve done several times before at about the same time each year. If you’ve been to Boulder, you know how stunning it can be with the “Flatirons” in your line of sight no matter where you are. I happened to go when a significant amount of snow had just fallen. It’s not like I haven’t seen snow before, but the entire time that I was there it FELT as if I hadn’t seen snow before. I love trees, and experiencing hundreds of huge gorgeous pines covered in white snow did more than take my breath away. I was moved, silent, and tearful. And it wasn’t just the trees.
The home I stayed in has three floors of stone, wood and glass. It’s spectacular, spacious and decorated in books: gorgeous, colorful, crisp, great smelling, real books. Thousands of them on shelves, in cases, in the library, the kitchen, the coffee table, stacked, spread out, and some simply lying open on the floor. It was marvelous. And as with the snow, it’s not like I haven’t seen books before, either. I have a few hundred in my home. But, it FELT as if I hadn’t seen books before. I had interest in so many re-reading phrases, copying down quotes, memorizing concepts, visualizing the characters in the novels I picked up. I was inspired, connected and present – wonderfully present.
Each of us carries our own unique blueprint. We are each divinely created. We are more than our bodies. We are more than our minds. We are more than our jobs. We each have those encounters that make us feel expansive, connected, peaceful, and alive. But, from an early age, we deafen to the sounds of our own personal joys. And, it’s THESE joys that bring us true happiness and give us the clues to our course in life.
The more yoga I take, the more I am learning to operate with the flow of life. I bet you, like me, are mostly programmed to see the suffering and make attempts to understand and remove that which causes discomfort. While this is not wrong or even bad, what if instead our attention landed on these unusual epiphanies that make us feel delightfully alive (like snow on trees and hardcover books). What if we asked instead, “what is the gift in this?” when we face an unpleasant experience. Our perception shifts to one of being intrigued and trusting in the process. We are hard wired to separate our “problems” from the goodness going on in our lives. But if we have the ability to see that ALL of it is the process of life itself, we can move with a continuous flow that picks up first our innermost desires and finds fascination and interest from participating in any situation. As stated in The Tao of Personal leadership: “Flow requires us to transcend our inner blocks, built up by years of hurt and disappointment, to overcome our fear of failure and the nagging self-doubts that prevent us from reaching out to life.”
That sounds good but is hard to do. Our yoga practice provides many opportunities for growth, and one of the most powerful and most useful is our intent to Center. Our ninety minute moving meditation is an ongoing day after day relaxation technique to quiet the mind. By our honest pursuit to direct our bodies into each posture, we minimize the wandering, unconscious mind. Our efforts to become more and more aware of our breath and movement calm unnecessary emotions. As stated in Messengers of the Light: “Being centered means your spirit is in alignment with your body. It means there is a balance: your head is not totally in the clouds in an avoidance of life, but neither are you completely grounded to the earth and overreacting to life situations: our energy is not scattered but synchronized.”
The Tao explains a bit differently: “Through detachment, we see the larger patterns. Through compassion, we perceive the particulars. Their source is the same.” I believe that most of us perceive the particulars in a given circumstance but where we lose balance or lose center is in forgetting that there are bigger pieces at work beyond what we can see. Centering requires equal parts of both. And when we center, we aren’t judging but responding wisely to any challenge, understanding from a higher level, able to see new solutions, and new possibilities. When we are not, we engage in a fight or flight response, we are emotional and there is little to no chance to hear the distinctive awakenings of our own soul.
“Like a samurai sword, our awareness can cut through layers of deception, clearing the way for new possibilities, but like the sword unless our consciousness is given daily attention, polished and renewed, it will lose its edge or rust away from neglect.” So says the Tao of Personal Leadership
Doing our practice every day over a long period of time will align the body and the mind and only then will we begin to reclaim our unique spirit. The yoga improves our health which improves our mind which sparks our soul. Our spirit awakens, operates, and continues to evolve with the flow of life. And our conscious patterns of thinking strive to be ONE with happiness. We move beyond the thoughts of suffering into a world filled with relationships to all things, to each other and even to snow covered trees and crisp great smelling books.