I came across this article this morning from Nadya at the Spinach and Yoga blog. Nadya is a Yoga teacher and blogger. It really put things into perspective for me as a beginning Yoga student seeking the physical and spiritual enlightenment that Yoga provides. Let me know your thoughts.
The Everlasting Age of Anxiety
The great American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow echoed the Buddhist tenet that everyone suffers with the words “Into each life a little rain must fall.” Everybody has troubles of one sort or another and we all need to escape them at some point. Turning off your mind and all its worries is the great escape. Drugs and alcohol are one route, but the long-term side effects are a drag. Being distracted by any kind of entertainment (shows, food, shopping, sex, gambling, sports, games) is fine for a while but eventually it comes to an end or you run out of money or the thrill wears off. Becoming a workaholic or pursuing an artistic passion can perhaps do the trick. It’s never worked for me. That chorus of whiners in my head doesn’t shut up that easily.
Meditation is about turning off your mind and getting in touch with an inner self that transcends your grade point average or your income or your love life. It takes time to get comfortable with meditation. It requires patience and concentration. And no matter how often I’m told to focus on my breath or just let myself go or follow a guided tour or let my thoughts bubble away, other phalanxes of my thoughts are chirping away in the background like incorrigible parakeets or making snide remarks like cynical teenagers or just stumbling in asking what’s up. Maybe when I’m much older and calmer I’ll get the meditation thing down, but for now yoga is my guaranteed great escape.
Finding Meditation That Works For ME
When I’m in a really challenging yoga class, stretching my way through a great sequence of poses, my mind completely shuts off. Yes I hear the teacher’s voice and follow the instructions, but the little rain that has fallen in my life seems very far away and completely irrelevant. All that matters is whether my hand is at that part of my leg or whether my nose is touching my knee or whether I can complete that bind and stay aligned. The body takes over. I feel my spine stretching. My muscles and joints and fascia wake up and take charge. I don’t know how or why this happens. Maybe it’s endorphins flooding the brain. Maybe it’s just the lovely sense that nothing else matters except getting the kinks out. My lungs have filled and relaxed with deep breathing and my breath has moved to touch and release the tightness that existed before I started moving again.
It has become a cliché that we live in an age of anxiety. The ecosystem teetering with the most intense overpopulation our world has ever known, too much wealth for the few and too few resources for the many, tremendous waste and need side by side, people who want to blow us up, too many lawyers and not enough justice. Technology has brought us miracles in medicine and communication and travel, but it seems like the more ground we cover, the less we see.
When I practice yoga I don’t think about any of that. I am getting in touch with a life force within me. The more I practice, the more it stays with me no matter the challenges of our times. I come out of class with positive thoughts and feeling good.
Really when has mankind ever not lived in an age of anxiety? And how is it within my control? I show my support for all the great good that also exists in this world. And then I imagine how it will be when more people transcend the rain in their life with deep breathing and come to realize the fluid mind-numbing power of yoga.
How do you deal with mind chatter and anxiety?