I remember the first time I tried Yoga. At the end of the session she had us lay still for 5 minutes and just focus on our breathing. I figeted, I squirmed. I tapped my fingers on the floor. Counting the minutes and seconds until it was over. Thinking it was the stupidest thing ever. I wanted to be busy. I wanted to sweat! What was this nonsense of being still?
My breathing would go on whether I focused on it or not. And I certainly was not enjoying the endless stream of random thoughts making it impossible to relax. I didn’t want to keep fighting to keep them focused. I was accustomed to watching them scramble in all different directions like squirrels. So I layed there in silent misery and listened to the rave inside my head as instructed.
While at home that night, I remember feeling a bit defeated. I was told that the experience should be relaxing. I wondered why it hadn’t been for me. And why I had such a hard time being still. But even more concerned about the on going rave inside my head that somehow, I never took notice of until I was still enough to hear it.
So I decided to not give up. This intrigued me. It was no longer about deciding if I liked Yoga or not. It was about learning to silence my mind. A red flag was up. The problem wasn’t the Yoga. The problem was my unwillingness to sit still and take notice of the things running through my mind.
So I went back. A second time. A third time. A fourth time. Until I realized, that if you want to hear that still small voice within you, you have to get still enough to hear it. If you want to understand your thoughts and emotions, you have to watch them pass and meander endlessly through your mind. If your overwhelmed by the busyness of your life, you have to take time to sit still and relax.
We are so good at being busy that we forget, it’s just as important to learn to be still. It’s self care, it’s love. The verse that always comes to my mind is – Be still and know that I am God. To me this means, I can be still and relax for those 30 minutes. I can trust that he has all these things I wonder and worry and obsess about under his control. He knows what I need before I even ask. I can chill out for a minute and hear myself think. I can lay it all at his feet and relax.
Our yoga instructor would always say, just focus on your breaths and be with your body in this moment. That was always hard for me. Our minds like to wander to the past or the future. My mind had little interest in me laying on the floor breathing. I had to learn to stay in the present. And for me, it’s all about gratitude. What do you have in this present moment that you can be thankful for? When you think about those things it brings you back to exactly where you are right now. The present.
And that is how it works. When the praise goes up the blessings come down. Stillness allows you to hear and understand the lessons that you need to learn in order to successfully incorporate them in your life. Gratitude keeps you grounded in the present. The mind is a powerful thing. It can take you for a ride. Learn to harness your mind so it can lead you in the direction your supposed to go.