“If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” Lao Tzu
Staying present can be challenging all the time. Add a global pandemic to the mix, and our minds and thoughts travel everywhere! To stay present, it’s helpful to anchor attention on something where we can keep bringing our focus back when the mind strays. It can be frustrating to experience constant drifting back to the past or into the future, imagining things that will likely never happen. It takes a big toll on the nervous system and thus our overall health and wellness.
Try to use breathing as an anchor (it’s my favorite). And, it’s right under your nose! When the attention begins to wander away, just think “not now” and bring the focus back to the anchor with compassion and not judgement. Perhaps even acknowledge and accept the wandering. With practice this will become more fluid. Remember too, that practice isn’t for perfection. Practice is for navigating in the light, what we may truly need in the dark.
During this season of light and holy days, may your presence be a present!
At age 20, I was given the feedback that I didn’t get my first internship because I was wearing sparkly brown nail polish. “Interview was great, but nail polish was unacceptable.” This was the feedback the interviewer gave the career counselor at my college.
Ever since then, my nails have been impeccably polished with “acceptable” colors. Thirty plus years of nail polish and a pandemic later, I’ve come to love my natural nails. I rub organic castor oil into them 1-2 times a week and that’s it.
It’s liberating. I feel like I’ve shed that stigma of the past. Loving yourself means your whole self and not cherry-picking certain things.
What is your little revelation? How are you loving your whole self? If you’re not, why not? This is worth some contemplation.
We may think that ease (sukha) is better than effort, because it just sounds so, well EASY. Yet without effort (sthira) there is no strength or stability. On the other hand, we can overdo effort and feel as if we are straining and stressed.
In yoga we come into poses (asanam) that may be relaxing, and others that feel more strenuous. Practicing Sthira and Sukha really isn’t an either/or, though. It is balancing both at the same time.
For example, even in a relaxing stretch like child’s pose we can find a steadiness in our breathing and thoughts. In a stronger pose such as Warrior II, even while feeling the effort of the body’s muscles used to hold the pose, we can still look for a lightness and comfort by letting the shoulders relax down away from the ears and softening the muscles of the face.
Often, we can find ease or contentment simply by letting go of expectations – what we think “should” be – and simply acknowledging what IS. We can feel the pose and use the breath as a guide to that sweet spot of harmony within.
As you step off your mat and into your life, can you find this same balance of effort and ease? For example, even while performing a task such as preparing dinner, I find a sense of ease by putting on my favorite music and reflecting on the day with gratitude.
More about our guest blogger:
Eva is the Owner/Founder of Nourish Yoga & Wellness. Her mission is to inspire adults to live more energetically and vibrantly by helping them incorporate simple changes in their lifestyle, especially in learning how to move and breathe to connect to their body through yoga. She believes strongly in making yoga available for EVERY BODY and specializes in working with beginners and older adults. To learn more click here: https://www.nourishyogawellness.com/
Many of us lead stressful, hectic lives and exist in a sympathetic state. This means the sympathetic part of the autonomic nervous system (ANS) — the “fight or flight” response — is more active that the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the part of the ANS that is linked with rest, digestion, and relaxation.
While yawning seems to be associated with fatigue or boredom, it also plays a role in transitions from waking to sleeping and vice versa. Yawning increases the circulation of cerebrospinal fluid and helps relax the body and reduce stress levels.
Our scientific community is looking at the importance of yawning. It’s crucial to our overall well-being. Repetitive yawning helps lower the temperature of the brain and assists in balancing inflammation and combating other harmful effects on the nervous system. Frequent yawning releases many neurologically beneficial processes.
While yawning is involuntary, you can bring about a yawn by just trying it. So… fake it till you make it!
Savasana, or more fondly, Corpse Pose is not an easy pose to find. According to the yoga masters, the hardest pose to practice. Letting go and being in stillness is a tall order. Life gets in the way, but it doesn’t have to.
Take a few moments of your day to connect with the earth through your body. Walk barefoot and really feel the earth with mindful, slow steps. Connect through your eyes, through your nose. Watch a beautiful sunrise or sunset. Inhale deeply and exhale slowly. It’s a great start!
“In life we think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem. The real truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together for a time, then they fall back apart. Then they come together and fall apart again. It’s just like that.
Personal discovery and growth come from letting there be room for all this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.
Suffering comes from wishing things were different. Misery is self-inflicted, when we are expecting the “idea” to overcome the “actual,” or needing things (or people, or places) to be different for us so we can then be happy.
Let the hard things in life break you. Let them effect you. Let them change you. Let those hard moments inform you. Let this pain be your teacher. The experiences of your life are trying to tell you something about yourself. Don’t cop out on that. Don’t run away and hide under your covers. Lean in to it.
What is the lesson in the wind? What is the storm trying to tell you? What will you learn if you face it with courage? With full honesty and – lean in to it.”