Many of us tend to go about our day on autopilot, acting unconsciously or habitually without awareness of what we are doing or why. We just react. Our energy is invested in fixating on the past or focusing on the future, skipping right over our current state of being. We may try to dodge our emotions, avoiding the time and space needed to feel and experience what's going on in our bodies. To just be in our own bodies.
Because don't we already have too many things to worry about? With our minds already so full, how do we even find time to be mindful?
I prefer to call mindfulness a way of being. An appreciation for whatever state we happen to be in, without attachments, labels or judgments. That allows for much more leverage in what we're actually experiencing, so that those feelings that we typically try to dodge-- the doubts, fears, confusions, guilt, shame, etcetera – have purpose and meaning in our lives. There's absolutely nothing wrong with being caught up in those moments of discomfort; for it’s in the time of discomfort that we find comfort, when we acknowledge exactly what we’re feeling and why so that we can release it.
In yoga, our breath is the foundation for a mindful practice. It allows us to slow everything down in the brain in order to create space between thoughts and actions. It helps us to practice patience in transition and stay in the flow. A mindful practice does not fixate on a certain destination. It's an exploration through movement and breath where we get to venture into the workings of our minds -- the sensations, thoughts and emotions. More dance, less straitjacket.
Of course we will wobble and stumble and fall completely out at times, but if we have that breath – that mindfulness – as our anchor and stability, then we can move through this dance that allows us to be okay with whatever comes up along the way. We may surprise ourselves, finding moments where we notice changes in our bodies or a deepening in our practice. Maybe a pose on one side of our body feels completely different on the other, and that’s okay. Maybe we nailed a posture yesterday but can’t quite get there today. And that’s okay, too. Whatever happened five minutes ago or whatever will happen five minutes from now does not matter. It's where we are right in this very moment that matters most.
Mindfulness doesn’t strive to look or be a certain way, nor should we. If you are frustrated, be frustrated. If you are ecstatic, be ecstatic. Let the mind ebb and flow, just like your practice. Yesterday, you were where you were supposed to be. Tomorrow, you will be where you’re supposed to be. And in this very moment, you are exactly where you are supposed to be.
Breathe, feel and appreciate it all.
Inhale, exhale. Inhale, exhale.