This past week was tough. It seems the universe has been testing me on how much can I pull out of the drama to still get things accomplished in the best way possible. My mother had some health problems this week and ended up in the Intensive Care Unit for a couple of days. Besides living in a different country than me, I am her only child and she is divorced, so she has been living alone since I got married and moved away. She has lots of friends as she is a very charismatic and nice person, but I couldn’t help and worry about her. Yet, life still goes on. And the job I have requires me to be present in my full authenticity. If you show up pretending to be someone else, eventually in the middle of class or session the mask falls and you become sort of naked and may get lost while switching to the true you in charge of teaching then. So, I tried my best to teach along with that feeling (worry), but not overwhelmed by it. I admit it is hard, yet can be done. It is very helpful to be able to separate your being from the feeling that seems so big inside you it wants to take over. My suggestion is: breathe consciously.
As the circumstances were out of my control and it would not make a difference if I worried for an extra hour or not, I managed to step into the classes I had to teach this week wholeheartedly. I believe meditation has been the biggest factor on this ability. It helps me discern which thought or feeling is happening in a certain moment, and, by being present (cultivating awareness) for at least a big part of my day, I am able to set my mind-generated-drama aside. Meanwhile, life continues.
Well, this morning, I woke up before my kids, which is unusual, but they have been sleep deprived because of school and activities, finally having a chance this Saturday morning to catch up on sleep. I had breakfast with my husband, who later proceeded to do his things and I retreated while there was silence to my bedroom to meditate. For my meditation today, I chose a breathing technique, as I thought this would intensify my focus and help me find stillness in a shorter time, hopefully before my kids woke up. My kids are teenagers now and don’t require much attention, but usually early hours provide great conversations between us, and I try not to miss those. I believe keeping the communication channel open to them helps us maintain our bond. So, I sat down and set the timer for six minutes (only!) to do a certain pranayama (breathing technique). As I closed my eyes and focused on my breath, the obvious happened. One of my kids woke up, walked to my room, watched me for a couple of seconds, then left and entered the bathroom turning the water on for an early shower. My mind started going crazy by creating different scenarios of how she could be in need of my help. “Why is she taking a shower right after waking up, even before breakfast? Did something happen? What if it is my youngest kid, who needs me to hand her this special conditioner we share?” Inside me this caregiver voice was screaming for me to go help whoever she was! Luckily, I chose to stay with the breath and let the kid handle it by herself.
I quickly made the association with what happened during this past week. Here was my mind trying to convince me I was my feelings/thoughts again. Having that discernment realized by the watcher in me made sure I sat down for the remaining minutes , which were crucial to complete the whole time I had decided for, and still collected the benefits.
Right after I finished the meditation and went to check on my daughter, I felt like sitting down to write this. Then, once again, the universe brought it… First, my husband decided to come into the room I was and do whatever he was doing next to me, which means having music (not calm ones, I tell you!) played the whole time as background noise. Deep breaths! Then, a few minutes later, my other daughter woke up, came to our room, sat down in front of me and started talking. A lot. At some point, she stopped and asked what time it was. I told her and she was shocked! It had been 15 minutes of non-stop talking, to which I barely added words, because she alone had a lot to say. She said, “I’m sorry I have been talking that much! I didn’t realize it.” I had my netbook on my lap, but had completely stopped to type to listen to her. I held in what I had to write patiently and really was interested in what she was telling me. I let her finish all she had to say (even though I think she will never get tired of talking) or her need for breakfast halted her, whichever happened first. Next, I continued typing as if nothing had happened. It is good to operate from this place; I’d even go far enough to say it feels safer to go on with my day from this kind of place, which is calmer and contains clarity.
You might be wondering how you reach that place; I believe it is through the breath, which functions like a bridge between body and mind. The Yoga sutra 1.2, from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, states the definition and purpose of yoga: yogas citta vrtti nirodhah. In summary, it says that yoga is the state in which the mind is not cluttered with any fluctuations (citta) or thoughts not based in reality. This is the broader definition of yoga instead of the limited view as a sequence of physical poses; there is way more to it than just poses! In fact, only 2% of the yoga study was dedicated to asanas. But let’s go back to my intention behind this post: When life brings some challenges that keep you from living in the present and from being able to attend to what you are doing, try to redirect awareness back to your breath. As you go on with your day, try to stay aware so as not to be consumed by your thoughts or overtaken by your feelings. Instead, simply watch them. And breathe, deeply and consciously.