Have you ever gone out for a walk with a friend and because you were chatting away didn't realize just how far you've walked? That's sort of what happened with me and yoga.
My husband wants me to teach him "what I know" about yoga/meditation. This request got me thinking. How do I explain what I've learned over the past 14+ years in words that someone who has no experience with these practices can understand? The thing is, just like when you're walking and chatting with your friend, you may not know the exact route you took to get to where you are. I don't actually know how I got here. My friend, Jon would say "my magic carpet" got me here and everyone's magic carpet takes a different route to this place we call yoga.
As I think about all the "tools" that I've collected over the years in my yoga tool box I wonder which one came first? Do you remember your first profound yoga lesson? If you had to pick just one yoga tool that has helped improve your life what would that be? That's what I'm asking myself. The answer, for me, is learning to cultivate one-pointed attention. With our mind focused on just one thing at a time we will notice that we feel calmer.
It takes practice and a strong will. Our minds naturally wander back into the past and races into the future. We're doing our work thinking about what we'll be doing when we get home. When we get home we worry about the work we left behind. We're not even done a sentence and our mind is already forming the next sentence with no regard for the other person's response. This creates chaos in our minds which translates into stress and chaos in our lives.
The first step for those of you interested beginning a yoga journey of your own is to practice, whenever possible, one-pointed attention. Whatever you are doing, give it your full attention. If your mind starts to wander on to something else, gently bring your attention back to what you are doing. "In the words of the compassionate Buddha, when you are walking - walk. When you are sitting - sit, don't wobble."
Another way to help with this practice is to watch your breath. Sit for a few minutes with your eyes closed, bringing your attention to your breath. Don't try to change the breath at this point, simply watch it. A thought enters your mind; just let it come but bring your attention back to your breath. The thought will go. The next thought comes, bring your attention back to your breath. The thought will go............
Do you see the pattern? One-pointed attention - when you are doing something, focus only on what you are doing. When you want to calm the mind and relax, focus only on the breath. Try this technique of watching your breath when you have difficulty sleeping.
Yoga is a journey - not a destination. Enjoy each moment of the journey by giving each moment your full attention. Besides, it doesn't really matter how you got here just that you are here!