Have you ever gotten to the end of the day and thought to yourself, “What did I even do today?” or “I didn’t get anything done that I planned to today.” We humans are mistaken to think that we control our lives. That we control our minds. The truth is, for many people our minds control us. I won’t get into the science here, but if you’re interested you can find lots of current research proving the theory that our thoughts happen long before we are aware of them—even commands to move our bodies. So even if this is foreign to you, for the moment consider that perhaps your mind has more control than you think.
This is the reason why spiritual practices are so important. In particular, those that help you to gain mastery of your own mind. It is possible to gain insight and to have experiences that bring you peace and liberate you from the suffering in life that the mind can cause.
One way that I have incorporated this into my own practice is to be very careful how I begin my days. The default mode of my brain wants to grab my phone as soon as I wake up, see if anybody has contacted me, read my emails or perhaps look at the news. But I have found that this very quickly leads me down a rabbit hole where my mind happily chases distractions all day.
Now, my morning routine starts by ignoring my phone, and instead focusing on getting centered and grounded, remembering my true nature before I put on my face for the day.
At this time of year, my day starts by making a fire. My old log cabin tends to be drafty and cold and while I could just let the forced hot air heat come on, I choose to make a fire instead. Feeling the wood in my hands, fanning the flames, and feeling the warmth from those efforts, reminds me that we are nature.
Then, I sit on my meditation bench near the fire where I’m able to easily drop in and do nothing for a few moments. I don’t worry at all about how long—even if I sit just for a few moments, it’s enough to remind me. Often it turns into a longer sit than my mind may have wanted, because the truth feels so good I tend to stay there.
Once I’m in a state of connection and oneness, which is where meditation leads me, I walk a few steps and place my mat on the wood floor. Again, my only promise to myself is to move a little bit. If it’s two poses or 20 poses, it does not matter to me. My form and perfection are certainly of no concern. I simply listen to my body and move a little to see if I can find opening and enjoy the sensations that might come. For me, the most important part of any asana practice is the breath. That I recognize every single inhale and exhale, and move as if led by the breath. That is my primary desire as that leads to meditation-in-motion.
So, while I may only sit for five minutes and do asana for five minutes, that’s 10 minutes of great meditation and—because it feels like my natural state, my truth—I often stay longer.
Now, I am ready for a day where my practice is not left behind. Being grounded and centered before entering the “real world” allows me to continue practicing while moving through life. At a stoplight, I may take a few deep breaths and really notice my body. While I’m talking to a client, I make sure I listen deeply and really try to serve them, and I always stop for the sunset and take in the beauty and reflect.
To me yoga never stops as I try to move through the world in a constant state of meditation and awareness.