These words came to me today as I realized that much of our lives are played out in what is known and the expectations of those around us.
How can we live beyond the knowing? By stepping out of our comfort zone and trusting that there are new limits to explore. To embrace the wonder beyond the knowing.
It doesn’t begin with more activity, the setting of goals and targets. These are the Yang aspects of life. It begins with setting aside time to be in stillness. To be with our thoughts and discovering the deeper, hidden parts of our being. This is where Yin resides.
In Yin we find the place beyond thought. The knowing that is within us all, that wants to break free.
Enjoy this re-post from three years ago.
“Our minds are like crows. They pick up everything that glitters, no matter how uncomfortable our nests get with all that metal in them.” ~ Thomas Merton
I love this analogy. Its part of the human condition to keep picking up thoughts and not letting them go. Adding more and more until we find ourselves overwhelmed.
In yoga there is the term “monkey mind” for a mind that continues to jump from one thought to another. Whether monkeys or crows work for you, take a moment to reflect on how attached to you might be to your thinking.
Do you keep analyzing and adding more thoughts? Or perhaps jump from one to the next? How much are you adding to your mental clutter ?
When we take time to pause and be still, we become aware of our thinking. We realize we are not our thinking. As a witness to our thoughts, we become less attached to them.
With awareness comes detachment and the ability to let our thoughts go.
Don’t add to your inner clutter, find your middle ground.
“Yoga is about changing our habits”. ~Rodney Yee
One of the habits that shows up for everyone as they begin their yoga practice, is how we shorten and even hold the breath when sensation increases.
Holding our breath is a defense mechanism of the human body. It prepares us to react to a threat. However, it increases the tension and stress in the body, rather than bringing it to a state of balance.
In yoga we learn to deepen the breath when sensation increases. We breathe through tension and discomfort and allow the energy to keep flowing, rather than getting stuck.
What a great lesson to bring to our lives!
Yoga increases sensitivity and awareness. It will reveal where the body is tight, where mobility is limited and where energy is blocked.
In yoga we learn to breathe, feel, and where possible let go. Ultimately this helps us make more skillful, conscious choices and allows us to create greater fulfillment in life.
And it all starts with the breath.
Inhalations bring in new energy and help us feel. Exhalations release negative energy and help us relax.
Breath deeply as you move through the highs and lows of life, and make the ride easier.
This is a powerful and touching story from Rachel Naomi Remen, taken from when she talked with a group of American women doctors about treating cancer patients.
” In the discussion after the talk, an internist commented that she would find this work difficult. She had avoided caring for people with cancer because a certain percentage of them would die and she found it upsetting to care for dying patients. “I hate it when I’ve run out of treatments, when there is nothing more I can do,” she confessed.
Others in the group nodded their agreement.
I asked them when they first became uncomfortable in these situations. The women were surprised to notice that they had not been as uncomfortable before medical school. As the discussion went on, it became clearer that we were more uncomfortable in these situations as doctors than as women.
As women, we knew there was something simple and natural in just being there, together. Slowly some insights emerged.
Women have always been present at these times, at death and birth and in many of the other transitions in life. Women have gathered at the transitions, as comforters and companions, as witnesses, to mark the importance of the moment.
One of the physicians talked about caring for her dying mother when she was nineteen years old. She had expected a great deal less of herself then. At first she had driven her mother to her doctor’s appointments, shopped for food, and run errands. As her mother grew weaker, she had prepared tempting meals and cleaned the house. When her mother stopped eating, she had listened to her and read to her for hours. When her mother slipped into coma, she had changed her sheets, bathed her, and rubbed her back with lotion. There always seemed to be something more to do. A way to care. These ways became simpler and simpler. “In the end,” she told us, “I just held her and sang.”
There was a long, thoughtful silence. Then one of the older women said that she too had tended to avoid situations when there were no treatments left. She had felt powerless.
But she saw now that even when there was nothing left to do medically, there were still other things she could say or do that might matter. Kind things. Ways she could still be of help. She had simply forgotten. Her voice wavered slightly. I looked at her more closely. This tough and competent sixty-year-old surgeon had tears in her eyes. It was quite amazing.”*
May we never forget the heart and soul we share with others, no matter where they are on their life journey. Be there and care.
*Remen, Rachel Naomi. Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories that Heal, 10th Anniversary Edition (pp. 43-45). Penguin Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.
This is a re-blog from 2015, when I began to notice the tension when trying to get caught up with posts on Word Press. We don’t need to be actively interacting, to know that we are a part of this community. Gratitude and love to you ❤️
The blogs I follow expand with content on Monday mornings.
An avalanche of goodness awaits.
Leading to some feelings of overwhelm and not enough time.
So I take time to notice and pause…
Slowing down and breathing in order to be present for each one.
Letting go of thoughts to hurry through and get it behind me.
This is not a task, its about connection, listening and community.
These feelings are like an echo of how I lived most of my life.
Hurrying up to get things done and get ahead of the present.
Skipping forward towards some goal.
If only I knew then what I know now …
Thank you bloggers for this lesson on mindful presence today
We all want to grow and become something ….. it seems to be a part of being human. Yet, what is that all about?
Some of us want to be successful in the eyes of others.
Others keep looking for the perfect partner, house, career, experience etc.
Some of us have a need to assert who we are and let go of the constraints of the past.
Others are drawn to acknowledge and appreciate all that has been, and the people who have supported them to where they are today.
Most of us want to be happy, but are bemused and confused at how elusive happiness can be.
I don’t have the answers, but what I do know is this. When we shift from looking for happiness outside of ourselves and start to question who we are, and what we have taken for granted, we are actually opening up a part of ourselves that has been hidden.
This part within us is yearning to be noticed. To be heard.
It may not be ready to be heard by our parents, siblings, partners or colleagues, but we must listen to it.
Honor and love this part of you.
This is who you truly are.
Let it flourish and grow.
“Begin each morning by saying to yourself:
Today I will meet people who are nosy, ungrateful, arrogant, deceitful, envious, and unsocial.
They can’t help it—they are ignorant of the difference between good and bad.
But I, who know the difference, also know that I share the same human nature with them.
I can’t be angry with my fellow humans.
We were made to work together, like pairs of hands, feet, eyelids, or rows of teeth.
To hate each other is against the laws of nature.
No one can hurt me but myself, for no one else can make me forsake the good and embrace the bad”.*
~ Marcus Aurelius
May we all come to see this wisdom and work together.
*Aurelius, Marcus. The Meditations: An Emperor’s Guide to Mastery (Stoic Philosophy Book 2) (p. 11). Ancient Renewal. Kindle Edition.
“In the mirror of your mind all kinds of pictures appear and disappear.
Knowing that they are entirely your own creations, watch them silently come and go.
Be alert, but not perturbed.
This attitude of silent observation is the very foundation of yoga. You see the picture, but you are not the picture.”
~ Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
The foundation of yoga is to become a silent observer without attachment to the world we create in our minds.
… and then remember not to hold our breath 😊
Many of us continue our path into 2019. We are on a journey of curiosity, inner exploration, trying on new ideas, committing to better behaviors, taking care of ourselves … and taking time out to nourish mind, body and spirit.
We see ahead clearly and then something comes along to bring doubt, temptation, discomfort or rejection.
So soon… Really?
The most significant lessons are unexpected. And they often come along just when we were hoping or counting on something else.
Let them be wake up calls rather than obstacles in your mind.
Be alert. Wake up.
The class of your life is in session.
Take time to pause and reflect on the real lesson waiting to be seen.
p.s. My thanks to Mike Bizeau for the permission to share this image.
So often in life, we are expected to strive to be successful and achieve our goals.
Yet, it’s easy to become attached and driven by them, to the extent that we no longer enjoy or appreciate life.
In becoming attached, we become prisoners.
What do you need to let go off, to truly be your best?
Val Boyko is originally from Scotland and came to the United States over 25 years ago. At "Find Your Middle Ground" Val brings together her experience as a life coach, yoga teacher and mentor, to inspire awakening to the light and inspiration within us all. This blog is a place of exploration and discovery as we all explore finding harmony and peace, in the highs and lows of life 💛