e/u: meditation. mindfulness. equanimity.

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In the Absence of Practice

This past week has found me in a strange place. It was the culmination of many stress factors, poor time scheduling, and an exponential increase in obligations and responsibilities. My health has obviously been effected: from an almost-fainting spell to a days-long migraine. I found myself overwhelmed, grumpy, exhausted, on the verge of tears, and generally unhappy. 

 

In the middle of all of it? I lost my practice. At one point during this week, I found myself staring at a picture of Neem Karoli Baba and thinking about how much I missed my sadhana. I have been absent from my much-loved early morning Mysore classes. I had allowed my meditation and chanting practice to take a hit too, squeezing in a few minutes here or there, but not truly committing time. The balance of our lives is all too easy to push off kilter.

 

I also found myself this week telling the story of how busy I am, how upset, how tired. Telling the story of it only makes it worse. Trying to compete with others in the “how busy are you” game means no one is winning. I was telling everyone that would listen about how stressful things were and how I didn’t feel like I was handling it well. By continuously repeating the stories, I amplified the stress and missed the ability to open up and make space for what was happening. I closed down instead. It’s all easy to do, especially in the world we’ve structured for ourselves.

 

But on the other side of it, I am grateful to have lost myself a bit this week. Losing footing in practice can help clarify the reasons why we do it to begin with. This week let me know that, yes, I am doing these things for a reason. Ashtanga yoga is an anchor in the sea of life and meditation is the piece that connects me to everything. With them, I can find the still point inside, that never-ending resource of equanimity. They help me cultivate compassion and patience, two things I think we all could use a little more of around here. I can slow down a little and not let outside forces push me into certain mindsets or ways of being. I can see the real things, not the stories. I needed that this week and every week.

 

So what do you do when you lose your footing a little? Don't assign any blame or judgment. Start where you left off. Begin again. I am pleased to have done so and to have found a little bit of rest and calm after feeding myself and my stress demons for a few days. No matter where you land, you can always come back to where you were. You can always come home again.

 

 

As a side, related note: I am offering the 30 Day Sit again this coming June.  If you have fallen away from practice or just interested in discovering what benefits mindfulness can bring to you (and perhaps a week you may have had like mine), head over here and read about it.
I Always Want to Say It.

“You should meditate."

 

If there’s one thing that I think and want to say in almost all of my conversations with people, it’s this.

 

Stressed about work/family/finances/school? You should meditate.

Sad? Lonely? You should meditate.

Have a lot of feelings of anger or irritation? You should meditate.

Get upset easily? You should meditate.

Feel disconnected from people? You should meditate.

Not sure what you’re doing in life? You should meditate.

Feel a general sense of unease? You should meditate.

Happy and feeling good? You should meditate.

 

I could keep going.

 

I don’t like sounding as if I am a meditation evangelist. Meditation and mindfulness are big buzz words anymore, from Fortune 500 companies to the yoga studio down the block. I know buzz words tend to get a lot of eye rolling or people generally nay-saying for the sake of being nay-sayers. I might too if I hadn’t let myself experience things.

 

Before I practiced yoga and meditation, I was a full-time hater. I got irritated easily. I didn’t like people very much. I suffered from a lot of anxiety and depression. I had a lot of problems with insecurity and a general dislike for myself. I ran from feelings and attempted to “go robot” instead of dealing with things. I would never claim that meditation is everyone’s fix for all of their problems, but I can tell you that it has helped with a large majority of mine.  

 

Instead of feeling irritable and tense all of the time, I can open up more.  I can let stress roll off a little easier.  I am able to offer more compassion and connection to others. I can see a bigger picture.  I have been lucky to find an inner calm that acts as a resource even in the craziest of situations. Do I still freak out about things? Sure. I like to do it for about five seconds via text messages with friends. And then I breathe and it’s over. Do I still have some of those negative feelings? Certainly, but isn’t it a wonder to actually feel them instead of run from them? What a thing openness is! I don’t have to feel a lot of irritation at everyone I encounter.  We carry around so much weight from the stories we tell ourselves and it’s nice to lighten that load.  (But maybe our stories are for another blog.)

 

The point here is that my life is different and for the better. When I lived in seemingly endless stress and anger, I felt constricted.  There was a tightness in my chest all the time. I felt separate. With meditation, yoga, mindfulness, I can feel part of the bigger whole. I can breathe more freely and be part of all the aspects of life, whether I think they’re good or bad. Being truly part of each moment of your life is a really quite something. 

 

So when I want to suggest meditation, it’s because I wish good things for you. I want you to experience life to the fullest in each minute. I want you to let go of the things that weigh you down. I want you to fly free and know that things are just fine.  Maybe meditation isn’t what can achieve that for you.  Maybe it’s something else. Either way, my wish for you is the same.

Mindfulness + coaching = ?

When I say “mindfulness coaching” to people, sometimes their faces go blank.  “What does that mean? Why don’t you just call yourself a meditation or yoga teacher?"

 

For me, mindfulness coaching embraces so much. It can mean a lot of teaching in meditation and yoga techniques.  It can include a lot or a little accountability.  It can mean receiving a lot of help processing what mindfulness means for your life in particular.

 

I chose the word “coach” because I see my role as an overall support for your journey. Having someone around to check in on how you’re doing can make a big difference. In my experience, it has meant the difference between sticking with something and not.  If my teachers had not had expectations for my practice, I might not have kept it up.

 

This kind of support is important in a lot of ways. Sometimes meditation and yoga are practices that can bring up a lot of “stuff” for people.  I know that it has done that for me.  The deeper I have gone into practice, the more I find myself working through issues I’ve had, bad habits I’ve formed, past memories that keep cropping up, and so on. It’s hard work, but it’s incredibly beneficial.  Because it can be hard, it’s nice to have someone on your side, someone you can talk to or ask questions of.  

Mindfulness coaching can take about any form you like.  Some yoga teachers you encounter show up for their class, teach it, and leave, while some become very invested in their students. You can work with me and simply get meditation or yoga instruction, but you can also get a lot more. 

Whether you choose mindfulness coaching or not, I hope you will at least choose to try to sit in meditation and find what there is for you there.