It seems like yesterday when I went to my first yoga class. In fact I remember feeling like it was much harder work than it looked watching others, but that I also felt amazing afterwords. There were other things that happened as well in the early days. One weekly class that I signed up for had me crying on my mat every week! I was in the midst of ending a long-term relationship and the deep sadness from that ending came up mostly in yoga class (where there was space for it to come forward and be released). UnfortunateIy at that time, I was so embarrassed that I stopped attending that class.
After a number of years of practicing breathing, yoga, meditation, and silent retreats, I noticed that suffering only ever ‘happened’ to me for two reasons. 1. When I did not get what I wanted, and 2. When I didn’t want what I had.
I also noticed that when I was able to drop down into my heart (by returning to the present moment) and get out of my head (my head was usually in the ‘past’ or ‘future’), that everything would ease and feel infinitely better very quickly.
I had been practicing insight meditation, gestalt counselling, breathwork, shamanic and silent retreats, kundalini and hatha yoga, and studying with a spiritual teacher for about 10 years at this point. Having a daily practice was always my mainstay, as it consistently brought me back to myself.
The practice of living in the present could only come forward after cultivating an awareness of this inner landscape. Learning to listen to my body was the first gateway to this awareness, and breathwork and meditation for me, has been instrumental in cultivating this awareness.
That’s the key, I thought to myself. It’s really as simple as staying in the moment. Sure make plans, and even goals, just don’t get too attached to things having to go the way I think they should. Also, learn to relax about life when it does not feel ‘perfect’ in any given moment.
This simple change of understanding made things infinitely easier in my life. And this simple change was possible because of the awareness that doing these daily practices had brought into my life.
I invite you to notice that when you get caught thinking “I don’t like where I am” or “I should be somewhere else”, that’s when you suffer. It’s really so simple and yet can also be so challenging for most of us to remember, especially when things feel particularly tough. The other problem is that when we’re down, we tend to have a negative perception, we think it should be more difficult and then proceed to make it so, but it does not have to be. It is always a choice. A moment-by-moment choice.
Any practice that helps you get out of your mind and into your heart will ultimately help you to live in the present more and consequently suffer less. If done consciously, breathwork, yoga, and meditation will help with this a great deal.