I like to pick up Master Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras especially when I’m feeling overwhelmed and off-balance.
I can’t think of a better resource to restore my sense of being grounded. The following verse is resonating with me this week:
Yoga Sutra 1:31
~ Dukha-daurmanasya-angameja-yatva-shvasa-prasvasa viksepa sahabhuvah ~
daurmanasya, anxiety, worry
angamejayatva, unsteadiness of the body
shvasaprashvasa, irregular inspiration and expiration
visepa-sahabhuvah, (are) accompaniments of distractions
Grief, anxiety, worry, irregular breathing and a feeling of unsteadiness keep us from yoga, or union with the Divine Self. I usually experience at least one of these feelings everyday — I’m human after all. It’s a stressful, crazy world we live in, and it’s not slowing down anytime soon. Work, family and relationships all require attention. We spend many of our waking hours worrying about the future or past. And these days, it’s considered normal to experience stress during sleep. I’m actually busy in my own dreams!
I live in NYC, a place that can exacerbate a feeling of unsteadiness. Millions of people anxiously scurry from one place to the next…all day, every day. I sometimes think if I slow down, I’ll get plowed over. This feeling of never being able to keep up creates anxiety.
Years of living the ultra-fast NYC life resulted in a feeling of disconnection from my body. My mind whirled with chatter, constantly making to-do lists and living in times other than the present. I was searching for steadiness and balance, but didn’t know where to find the source. Then, with my beautiful teachers’ help, I began to realize…I was the source.
Through my asana practice, I was exposed to meditation as a way to create calm in the mind. Like most things I’ve tried in life, it was difficult in the beginning. The temptation to get up and keep living was strong. With practice and patience, I learned to resist this urge and now daily meditation is just as routine as brushing my teeth.
That being said, I also know just how easy it can be to “get to mediation later today when I have the time”. Early on, it became obvious; I was never going to have time. I need to make time for it. As meditation becomes a higher priority, the less anxiety, worry and unsteadiness I seem to experience. It’s a beautiful thing.
Taking those minutes to focus on my breath creates more space in my life. The result? I actually do a better job at everything because my mind is present and not somewhere else.
In addition to meditation, asana practice is another way I’m continuing to develop my awareness of the breath. Often, I find myself struggling in a challenging pose. The natural reaction is to speed up breathing and pray the teacher will call the next pose quickly. This mindset just breeds impatience.
Instead, I breathe slowly and steadily. In doing this, I’m learning to embrace the challenge and trust I can work through it. It’s so easy for me to see how this translates to everyday life. The ability to keep the breath steady means thoughts, words and actions will also be steady.
Despite my natural tendencies to worry, be anxious, breathe irregularly and feel unsteady, I’m working to counter-balance them with these daily practices. I am the source of peace and calm in a crazy world. This is becoming easier to see each day on my path to yoga.