I am writing this on my way back from Boston, where I spent the weekend with family celebrating the life of a beloved uncle. Over the last couple weeks since his recent and unexpected passing, I’ve been considering the meaning of it all – or rather, the meaning I make of it all, and the difference between these two things.
My practice – call it yoga, or simply making a conscious effort to be an intentional, thoughtful human being – is in many ways about the cultivating the ability to slow down time. That is, to tease out more space out between the stimulus and the response.
It’s about “the pause”.
As a newer practitioner I first began to realize the power of said pause, through physical postures on my mat. It is here where I really began to consciously observe my reactions – to both be in the moment and simultaneously watch it unfold. I began to notice this self-awareness occasionally spread into my daily interactions.
I initially only saw my reactivity, where I was previously unaware of it, and most of the time was still unable to disrupt it. Over time I would come to know larger over-arching patterns in my thoughts both in the landscape of time and in their depth of complexity. Occasionally I began to implement changes in the moment, which rippled into alterations in habits, and then in previously-long-held beliefs. This process has not been linear, nor without its setbacks, but its course is always moving forward. A physical, movement practice is now only one of the tools I have to continue self-study.
This is the space I’ve been sitting over the last couple weeks – both feeling intensely and quietly observing. I do not think that the practice of tuning in and becoming more aware of our inner workings makes the experience of life easier in any way, but I do think it can make it richer, and certainly more empowered. I’ve been watching the meaning I bring to all of this – meaning around life and death that I’ve been attached to (but not necessarily chosen) from the psychological and sociological conditioning of family, culture and circumstance, and I realize I don’t have to carry all that if I don’t want to. It doesn’t have to me mine.
I firmly believe there are a lot of things we don’t chose, but I do think we get to decide the meaning we make.
This, to me, is the essence – the gift- of the practice: honing my ability to see with a clear, and compassionate eye. Knowing what I’m doing, and why. Both/and.
Through mourning I’m also reminded of what I hold dear in my life, which at it’s core is a growth, community and connection. These are the reasons I do what I do and I want to thank you for being a part of that.