My partner and I took an unexpected cross-country road trip this August in our move from the East Coast to San Francisco. We originally planned to purchase non-stop flights to save time. But when the movers needed an extra week to deliver our things, we happily took advantage of this unanticipated opening in our busy schedules.
Along the way we had ample time to reflect on life, to say thanks to each other and to ourselves. We have recognized the importance of this in the past and together we would regularly practice meditation. Yet sometimes the present seems so oppressive that we forget to stay mindful.
Finding balance through mindfulness
We actively strive toward finding our new balance in the moment of peak chaos and practice acceptance, forgiveness and compassion. But so often these intentions take a backseat to the mind-numbing routines of the day to day. As socially conscious, environmentally aware and empathic beings, shouldn’t a practice of yoga, exercise and eating mindfully be enough? This is my repeating struggle, being enough while letting go (Aparigraha) and having compassion (Ahimsa).
This is why yoga as meditation has so much to offer me. To appreciate that even the same practice is never the same experience. Setting a daily intention such as Aparigraha or Ahimsa (or for example any of the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali) can help guide one’s interactions between the dynamic external and internal worlds helping to bring our presence to the moment.
I am learning to admit that I am at times hard on myself and that includes feeling like I am not being mindful enough. When I have the thought that I have not chosen or worked for the right things in my life I may feel like a failure for falling short of my own expectations. I am grateful to recognize this is not a logical thought and having such a feeling is far from helpful. And yet these illogical negative thoughts creep in time and time again taunting me to feel bad.
Some days are tougher than others
Of course some days are easier than others and I think I have won the battle against negativity, but of course this is not a battle to enter (Aparigraha). The cycle repeats and those familiar illogical thoughts come creeping back in that say “I am not a good friend or partner or a good person”.
The good news is that with practice, it becomes easier to stop those automatic thoughts before they can effect your feelings or actions. So I step back and say to myself, Ahimsa. This intention of nonviolence, or loving kindness comes easier for me to share with others, yet cultivating self-compassion remains a work in progress.
And so I continue my yoga practice, Sthira Sukham Asanam, the practice of mindful self-acceptance and self-empowerment for stillness in the mind and expansion of the heart.)