One of my missions as a yogini is to continuously call myself back to this moment when my mind gets stuck in thoughts about the past or the future, thoughts about fear and doubt, thoughts about desire, resentment, anger, thoughts about what would make me happy if only x, y, and z were to occur. When I can reach that point of seeing that I have been thinking, I now am at choice–I can choose to take a deep breath and come back to this moment with all of my mind. The trouble is, becoming aware that I am entrapped in thinking can be pretty difficult when I’ve become absorbed in a particularly powerful thought form.
Take, for example, what happens in my mind when I’m in the process of getting my two young children out the door to make it somewhere in a timely fashion. There are any number of thoughts that can really take over and whisk me away from the moment, and coming back to reality can be quite challenging. Here’s an excerpt of a pretty standard monologue that unfolds in my mind during such a situation:
I’m tired. I wish I had more energy. Why are we going out anyway? I wish we could just stay home. Why won’t he listen to me and just stay put? Why doesn’t she just go to the bathroom on her own? Will we ever be done with potty training? I’m tired. Ugh, now I’m cranky, irritated, impatient, snappy. I’m so annoyed! Why won’t they listen? Why does this always have to be so hard? Other mothers are so much more patient and together than I am. Once we get there, I’m going to have to get them out of their carseats, and that will take more energy. Why am I so tired? I wish I had someone to help me. I wish I could just take a nap…
Getting caught up in thoughts like these and then staying there for any length of time is a great recipe for misery. One of my goals for my lifelong yoga practice is to lessen the amount of time I spend getting caught up in the mind fluctuations, and increase the amount of time I spend in the present moment, aware of what is happening as it all unfolds. Coming back to this moment and staying there with my whole self is a recipe for happiness.
And this is a practice, thank goodness–knowing this, I’m able to take some of the pressure off and just allow this process of awakening to unfold a little more organically. I am by no means a master at calling my attention back to this moment, but I want to move toward mastery with each step I take. I’m always grateful to come across techniques for maintaining present moment awareness, and sometimes I find particularly helpful exercises that I might work with for a while.
Today I decided to try mantram repetition synchronized with my breathing. It was pretty magical. When I found myself in the car tense and tight because I imagined myself to be crunched by time, some spark of grace arrived in my mind and reminded me to breathe in, repeat my mantram, and breathe out, and repeat my mantram.
I was amazed at the centering effect that this practice had on me. It engaged me physically in the act of breathing, and it engaged me mentally as I recalled the words of my mantram and repeated them slowly in my mind. Just one repetition and I was reminded that I am not just this body or this mind–there is a deeply spiritual core in my being, and touching that for just one moment I experience a sense of homecoming, of peace.
Coming back to center means that I remember that I am here now, and I acknowledge there is no other place to be. It is a gift I give to myself and to the people around me, as I free up the mental space I was devoting to the past and the future and I experience myself as fully alive in this moment. I am grateful for the teachings I have received from other yogis and yoginis, from spiritual masters in books they have written, from this life that is always presenting me with lessons. Grateful for any moment spent in this here/now place.
My wish for all beings is that they remember to come back home to their center over and over again, until they realize that the core of their being is infinite, it is their true home, their only source of peace. May you come back home to your center and remember your true self today!
Admittedly I’m really tired,
and I’m afraid that I’m not making much sense.
How do you put into words that which is beyond understanding?
I have such hope to convey understanding,
but do I even understand myself?
Whenever I attempt to capture an experience with words,
it floats just out of my grasp
like a butterfly dancing in the air above my fingertips
as I reach up to the infinity of the pure blue sky.
Maybe I shouldn’t try to catch it for the purpose of sharing it.
Maybe if I just settle down, relax, and actually experience this awakening,
maybe my awakening will easily and naturally benefit others.
Maybe then I’ll understand on a deep level
that beyond the doing, the reaching, the grasping, the trying–
I am simply a human being.