I experienced an “Ah, Ha!” moment this week in my studies. I love these moments and if you are scheduled to have lunch with me in a week where I am processing what I am learning, then you can guarantee that I am going to tell you all about my new discovery!! Thankfully, my beautiful friend, Laura, graciously listened and became excited with me.
In class on Tuesday night, our trainer spoke about Yoga Chitta Vritti Nirodah which means union (Yoga) comes from the cessation (Nirodah) of the fluctuations (Vritti) of the mind (Chitta). You might have entered a yoga class and heard the guide say, “Just focus on your breath and if a thought creeps into your mind like your to-do list or what you are going to eat for dinner, don’t judge, just gently let it go on the stream of your mind and watch it fade away as you gently return back to the awareness of your breath.” I can actually feel people rolling their eyes because this is easier said than done and because they do not know the enormous impact that practicing awareness and equanimity can have on your life!
First, awareness. I have too much of this! I am totally aware of how to place my body in the right position AND I am totally aware of the aches and pains I experience daily. I am aware of my strengths and doubly aware of my growth points. I am aware that my mind races so quickly jumping to assumption and judgements that is why I practice meditation, but God help me, I struggle to slow the thoughts. I love that now I can easily bring awareness to my breath because this is a skill that I have practiced over the past 7 years. When my son was first diagnosed with autism, I don’t think I took a deep breath for at least 5 years. Yoga helped me become aware of my breath in stressful situations where my body not only needed air, but I also needed to calm myself so that I could be a more peaceful presence for my family. Let’s just say, this took a lot of practice and I continue to practice!!
I am now learning that I have some skill in awareness but I wondered why I felt so off balance. Here is what I wrote in my notes during class, “Awareness by itself can make you hypersensitive so you have to balance awareness with equanimity.” Our trainer explained that if you have 1 (either awareness or equanimity) without the other, then it is like a bird with a wing clipped. The bird may not be able to fly at all, but if it is able to fly, then the bird will only fly in circles. I AM THAT BIRD.
But I want to be the bird that flies high in the sky free and strong, so I need awareness and equanimity. Equanimity is becoming aware of something without attaching to it or not reacting to it.
For example, when you wake up from a night of restless sleep, you have 2 choices:
1-judge the night as a “bad night,” continue to think about what I bad night it was and how that will affect your day, think about the nights before that were just as bad, worry about the next night. (This has been my reaction for many years!!!!)
2-wake up and say, “Today is the day that it is.” And let it go!
More on this later as I am running out the door to class!