"I am burdened with what the Buddhists call the 'monkey mind' -- the thoughts that swing from limb to limb, stopping only to scratch themselves, spit and howl."
Last year I read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. Despite criticisms I heard that it was self-indulgent and not realistic, I savored this book. I would not let myself read it quickly. I would read a bit, and stop to reflect on how this could be translated into my own life. If I was newly single with no children and a career that could not only support me well, but allow me to work where ever I chose, I wonder if I would feel free enough to take a year for personal growth? Where would I choose to go? What would I choose to learn? I love pondering these questions.....
One thing that I took away from the book was the purpose of yoga. I am not a follower of this practice. I took one class while I was pregnant with Grace 11 years ago. I enjoyed it but after she was born my personal time became non-existent and I did non continue with yoga, preferring ballet classes to get my pre-baby body back (well...almost back). I equate yoga with tai chi, which I studied a bit back when I studied karate seriously, again, pre-babies. Like yoga, tai chi has a way of relaxing your body and moving energy from other places in your body and environment to you core. When I was in China, I actually experienced this feeling. Technically we were not supposed to be studying with this Tai Chi Master. It would be like a freshman in college dropping in on a Doctoral class. But since we were there on an exchange program, we took the class. When I lost myself in the moment, mystified by my location, surrounded by beauty and opened my mind to learning, something amazing happened. I began to feel tingling in my fingertips that spread to my lower arms. As I repeated this swaying motion moving my hands in a circular motion about a foot away from my chest, my upper stomach began to tingle and get warm. It was a lovely feeling, not unlike the rush of love you sometimes feel but without the butterflies and nerves. It did not last long, but that was my chi.
Reading Eat, Pray, Love I learned that yoga prepares the body to pray and meditate. It opens up the energy pathways and prepares the body and mind to be still for long periods of time. Last night I went to bed overwhelmed with the events of my life. The kitchen is being painted so the dining room had to be emptied. Dishes had to be washed in the bathroom sink because I have no kitchen sink right now. Lessons are falling behind, I did not buy all the necessary paint needed, I am not prepared for Brownies, or botany and I have to figure out how to get Lilah to her Brownie class tonight while getting Grace to her basketball practice. My head hurt and it was late. My mind was swimming and when that happens I like to use prayer as a mantra to help me settle down and sleep. I tried saying Our Father. Couldn’t do it. I could not stay in the moment for 30 seconds. My brain was bouncing from one thought to the next. When this happens I think of Elizabeth in the ashram trying to say her mantra with a brain that would never settle. She hated meditations because she could never stay in the moment, focused on prayer, while blocking out the rest of her life that constantly intruded on her quiet time.
I feel like that sometimes. I want to turn it off for just 30 seconds. How hard is that? It should be easy right? Say a prayer, stay with the prayer, do not think of anything else, period. Not easy.
A few years ago I had a yoga dvd. This tape promised rock hard abs through yoga. It did not deliver - or I did not stick with it long enough! I did it after the girls went to bed. But back then they were in bed at 7pm and I had time and energy to devote to myself. I would like to find a new dvd, for beginner yoga or tai chi that I can do during the day, ideally at night before bed, when I want my mind and body still.
This is a goal for me now. To be able to say one prayer completely with silence in my head. I wonder how long it will take me to achieve this goal? If I can meet this goal, think of the possibilities! Perhaps I can sit by the pool watching my girls swim and relax. Just relax. Not have my calendar on my lap or my cell phone in my bag or my mental to-do list growing and growing. Perhaps I can sip my morning coffee clearly present in the glory of the sunrise peeking over the treetops without focusing on the rush of the day that is about to begin. Perhaps I can take my own advise that I give my daughter constantly, the same advise my Grandfather gave me over and over again, to stop wishing your life away. Live now. Enjoy now. Love now. Pretty much sums it up!
I would love recommendations for beginner yoga or tai chi!