That day when you said you’d be happy – why not make that day today?
September 28, 2014
It’s been so lovely to see everyone again at Yoga in Sudbourne, our classes are growing, which is wonderful. I hope you are learning things that you can take into your everyday lives – as Jon Kabat-Zinn says ‘Mindfulness is not just an idea, it’s a practice’.
Combining our yoga practice with a mindfulness practice feels very appropriate – as one of my teachers used to say ‘Yoga is the original mindfulness’. Keeping our mind within the room, and within our bodies, whilst practicing yoga is quite a challenge. I spent many years going to yoga classes, believing in the necessity of keeping the body flexible and toned, but my mind was hardly in that class at all. With three small boys and a busy household, I would spend a lot of the class thinking about other things. I was often thinking about myself, and how I needed to do certain things in order to be the sort of person I thought I needed to be – to ‘fit in’, and get on better in life/with others. Looking back, I believed all those things to be shortcomings I needed to get sorted. It sounds exhausting and it was!
I now look at yoga differently, and try to teach in the way I know may have helped me in those days when I was quite lost, and often angry and in a lot of mental pain. It’s interesting though, how our thoughts can change (if we are lucky, they may change for good). Those thoughts I was thinking then, over and over again, I don’t think now. I did though, spend a long time thinking those same thoughts over and over again, in large circles. I didn’t know then how to change my thoughts, but when I did learn how to do this, nothing was ever the same again. That is not to say that I don’t now have a racing mind, and don’t get anxious and worried, trying to be the perfect wife/mother/teacher/human being! Now I know what to do. As Jon Kabat-Zinn also wrote:
‘The impulse frequently arises in me to squeeze another this or another into this moment. Just this phone call, just stopping off on my way there. Never mind that it might be in the opposite direction. I’ve learned to identify this impulse and mistrust it. I work hard at saying no to it.’
Know what he means? A kind of insanity takes us over. As one of my teachers in London once said: ‘We need to babysit the mind – what is it doing now?’ This phrase is at the heart of mindfulness practice: ‘What is my mind doing now? Where has it gone now – into anger, into judgment, into worry (almost certainly!), into anxiety’. Anywhere but being right here, experiencing just this moment. It is a very simple practice: ‘Be here now’. Ram Dass was writing about this four decades ago – are we now getting there? (More judgment from me with this thought!).
Let’s get it now. Let’s really try and understand this before we try and take on any more in our lives. The back of our poor donkey is nearly broken, we load ourselves up with so much. Let’s not do this anymore. Let’s unload our baggage and old luggage off the poor donkey, and let it have a much-needed rest. We are not donkeys – of course we aren’t – but sometimes we can be just as stubborn, and can refuse to think another more positive thought, when it is so much easier to think that same old negative thought we’ve been pushing up the hill for decades. Enough! Can we let it go? If not today, then when? That day when you said you’d be happy – why can’t that day be today? And if not today, then when? Why won’t this present moment do? What is wrong with it? We don’t know how long we are going to be on this planet. Not everyone makes into old age; young people die every day, many years before their parents. Why does old age mean you will then be happy and wise? Does a decaying body mean you become happier and wiser? Of course not – so why do we put off being happy until the future. As Gen-la Dekyong said in her talk in London last year ‘If you want to be happy, don’t be grumpy’. So, there is our starting procedure – don’t be grumpy and then see what happens.
The new Mindfulness and Meditation classes continue tomorrow lunchtime, why not take a break tomorrow lunchtime and join us – 12.30 at Woodbridge Library. I’m looking forward to it – every time I lead any class I come away having learned something new about myself and my fellow travelling companions on this planet. May we all help each other to live more empowered, peaceful lives. If we can harness our own happiness, it means that all our relationships improve. We need to fill up our own inner wells frequently – modern life has a habit of depleting our inner resources,if we let it.
Mindfulness, meditation, yoga – all these ancient techniques can help us. They are tried and tested, so why don’t we give them a go? As the Buddha said (I paraphrase), ‘The dharma (teachings) are the medicine for our anxieties and pain, but we have to test them out, like an alchemist tests gold, not just see them as intellectual ideas’. Otherwise, he went on to say, it is like going to the doctor, being given medicine, but not taking the medicine and hoping to get better anyway. Let’s get a good practice going – taking 10 to 20 minutes twice a day just to sit – to contemplate our lives and the way we lead them, to appreciate the moments as we sit there, it really is not difficult. Over to you – and see you tomorrow, I hope, as we move forward on this pathway together.