The twenty-first century is a time when technology continues to creep into stimulation overload. Our society is beginning to crumble as the glue once holding us together now keeps our hands stuck to our smart phones. In the midst of all the craziness, a chronic migraine is born while stress levels skyrocket.
My mind runs a mile a minute answering this e-mail, sharing that picture, and streaming another tutorial. The thoughts have no finish line; However, I did find a rest stop with yoga. It is a crucial part in several aspects of my life. It projects no expectations of perfection which is why we always call it a practice. Try to forget for a moment everything you think about yoga. Forget the seemingly inhuman forms you see bodies contorted in. Get the chants off of your mind. Get everything off of your mind. It is time for unspoken reflection. Welcome to the world of meditation.
Beginning yoga at a young age is quite comical. You spend a lot of time squinting through your closed eyes to peer at the surrounding yogis. Once in awhile you find yourself stifling a laugh when you first hear techniques such as “fire-breathing.” When my cousin first introduced me to the downward dog pose, I felt right on my face in hysterics through the embarrassment.
One day when I was not giggling through a guided video, we were sitting outside on our mats in the backyard at my grandparents’ home. The nature surrounding us was on the cusp of fall with trees transforming to their seasonal beauty. The rustling captured my full attention, arising from the backdrop and becoming the only sound my suddenly sharpened hearing focused on. There was a noticeable difference in the brisk wind brushing my face and the sun radiating heat warming my shoulders. Autumn provides some of the most astoundingly comforting sensory experiences.
Seated cross-legged with my eyes closed, I began to breathe deeply through my nose. As I exhaled, I felt tensions escape my body as air slipped from my lips. Today, if I allow myself to notice it, I can feel my spine extend toward the sky one vertebrae at a time. My lungs fill with what seems the purest of air ever to enter them. There is no instruction, just a cycle of movement synced to the simple activity of breathing we so often take for granted.
A connection is felt between the earth and the person: a rare gift that few take the time to receive. Moving in the tiniest of motions, I was growing taller in my posture. After an immeasurable amount of time, my grandmother’s distant voice brought me back to reality. Opening my eyes, I noticed my calmness. Every time I practice now, I reflect on the first time my mind was truly at peace. This experience marked a huge moment in my life. It took time to grasp the magnitude of the impact the process would have in my life.
This generation tends to struggle with the notion of turning our minds off. Who can blame us? We were never warned of the addictive nature of the technology we were handed. In fact, we were taught that it was the responsibility of our generation to save the world. After all, we are given an extensive amount of information on anything our hearts could possibly desire.
We should be able to comprehend it quickly in order to continue the expansion of knowledge that is expected of mankind. The problem is we are explicitly advised to memorize all of it in massive amounts while pursuing community service, early careers, social growth, etc. Despite all of the extensive advantages it provides, the world of technology is mostly a world of mindless distractions that fill the moments which used to be reserved for quiet reflection. I do not think we give our mind the time to heal anymore- a sad truth.
The purity of silence is a lost art. Many people abandon it entirely after their first failure. My first formal yoga class, I experienced this same frustration. I practiced yoga for as long as I could remember, but never fully immersed myself in the meditative qualities it held. Only some of the fundamentals came naturally.
The concept completely foreign to me was stopping the thoughts that raced through my head in a rapid, illogical pattern. There were too many opportunities for negative things to immerse themselves in my life. Closing our eyes seems to be an invitation for reminders of each of those disheartening events. A single flutter of the eyelids introduces the unanswerable question of why into the discontent mind.
In the past, I dreaded going to yoga after any negative experiences. The repetition of the day’s events become an uncontrollable beast, and I was not ready to be a lion tamer. It took some time before I realized that self-control requires effort; it is not an innate process. I began to enjoy the final segment of my class a great deal more. The instructor closed yoga with a savasana pose in which you lay down with your eyes sealed.
Although she speaks the same words to us all, personal experiences differ. The phrase, “bring your attention to” is first followed by various parts of the body. Whether this means tightening the muscle, or simply envisioning it in your mind depends on you. Once you reach the space between your eyebrows, referred to as the third eye, you travel through your mind. I follow her voice on a restorative journey through my own. She often says, “If a thought enters your mind, allow it in. Then let it go.”
This is where I believe that people can find their peace. We spend so much time trying to force thoughts away when we do not realize spending time with them helps acceptance begin. Only after reaching that point are you able to release your enslaved mind from the prison guard that is overthinking. Everybody has his or her version of spirituality whether it be secular or not. It is a personal feeling that is indescribable. It centers us in an unstable world, and feeds our souls when corruption leaves us famished. For me, yoga is almost a version of Paradise allowed to me on Earth. I am grateful that I found my ticket in.