Did you know that the original purpose of doing yoga postures was to prepare the body and mind for meditation? Yes, it’s true, the goal was never tight abs and a rockin’ ass.
Still, meditation does not come easy. For the vast majority of us, it never has. As we add more and more to our lives, it grows even harder. Just ask me.
I used to wake up every morning at 5am to practice yoga – or to lead it. I worked, studied and taught at the largest yoga center in the world…and it was still hard for me to just sit down and be still.
And then, I had children and built a business, and I forgot that meditation existed. The yoga stopped.
Until last week. Something happened and I pulled out my yoga mat and, AH!, did yoga. And then something else happened…This morning, after I finished my postures, my body literally pulled me down, gently closed my eyes and dropped me into a peaceful, restful state of meditation. Block cities were being built around me, a three year-old curled into my lotus lap. But it didn’t matter. I could have sat there all day.
If you must know, I (and several of my family members) have been trying for the last three years to make myself be still, even for one minute. It’s been an unattainable goal. And I realized this morning that it was because I had forgotten the critical step. That I couldn’t just jump from crazy life to meditation, but that I had to prepare my body first.
What I was struck by was that my writing process is the exact opposite. My writing focus, that lucious connection to muse, blasts from the most chaotic and harried of moments. There is no time of preparation. There is just life and then words. Yes, I’ve written that walking in the morning helps stir my brain and stimulate words, but even then my mind is swirling and then boom.
Ah, grasshopper…so maybe my preparation is the chaos? Perhaps there is some method to this madness? Perchance ‘no preparation’ is my gameplan. What’s yours?
Image by Joe Shlabotnik
Join the discussion 3 Comments
Great post Julie, insightful and personal as always. Here’s my 2¢:
You’ve hit the nail on the head in coming back to yoga. Yoga, the union of the Body, Spirit and Mind, brings us to a place of balance. But there is also a distinction here that we are the combination of the Body, Spirit and Mind rather than the singularity of consciousness we experience as that voice in our head every day.
As each entity (Body, Spirit or Mind) has a relationship to the other it isn’t surprising that you’ve discovered a connective link between each. I like to think of each entity as having a parent:child relationship to another. As such, when one entity is in chaos it is difficult for its parent entity to enter into a place of peace.
For example, if your child was crying you would find it incredibly difficult to meditate. Because your child is experiencing trauma (ranging from actual pain to distress) you, as parent, cannot disconnect from that trauma. However, when your child is at peace, you find entering into a meditative state easier.
Thus I don’t think that chaos is a preparation for inspiration, but rather that some entities aren’t directly troubled by the distress of another entity (it isn’t their child). For example, let’s say that inspiration comes from the Spirit and is communicated to the Mind. In this example, the Mind is the child of the Spirit rather than the other way around. So the chaos of our mental existence doesn’t prevent the inspiration to be communicated by the Spirit.
Let us not confuse the Spirit’s ability to communicate inspiration to the Mind with the Spirit’s ability to come to a place of peace. What this demonstrates is that the Spirit’s ability to communicate isn’t hampered by the mental distress of the Mind. In fact, the mental distress of the Mind might actually be what allows the egoic Mind to step out of the way and allow the message to get through.
But life is not all about brilliant writing and thus we also seek a sense of balance and peace in our lives. Life gets in the way and our egoic Minds encourage us to fill up our lives with more. More activities, more responsibilities, more stuff. But when we step back and instead focus on nurturing the collective you, the combination of the Body, Spirit and Mind, we find that everything works in union.
Thus by bringing the Mind to a state of peace we find that it is easier to meditate because the child of the Spirit is at peace. We find that by slowing down that our Body, Spirit and Mind are able to connect. In this moment, we find more than just a relaxing moment. In this moment, we find harmony.
But how do we do this? How do we cause the non-stop processes of our Mind to slow down and become peaceful? “Just breathe,” doesn’t really work for many of us. But consider that if the Body (the child of the Mind) is in chaos, then the Mind cannot come to a state of peace. Thus to bring the Mind into a peaceful state we can begin by nurturing the Body.
And yoga is a wonderful way to bring about this harmony by investing and nurturing all three parts of “you” everyday.
I think this kind of focus and stillness is pretty important for programming. It requires detailed, analytical, almost mechanical thinking. Frequently I’ll lead myself into that grove by doing basic tasks — refactoring old code to work a bit better. Writing code comments on the things I did the previous day. Hypnotic music also helps.
Thank you both…
Darwin – that is a blog post in and of itself…just beautiful, intriguing.
John – I’m so glad this translates to your work – was my hope that it would transcend the writing process.