Navigating the Shifting Currents of Life
Five years ago my cousin Larry thanked me for a blog post that I had just written. It was about the value of grounding, remaining present in each moment, and how to access one’s inner point of stillness within the heart during unwelcome change. He told me that he had found it very helpful in processing an extremely challenging situation that he was dealing with. I was touched by his sentiments and very gratified that my words had helped him.
Today, I continue to seek solace from my yoga practice and the writing process to help me handle many sorrows including the recent and sudden death of Larry. During my morning yoga practice, vague images and ideas from last night’s dream surfaced and I recalled that in my dream, I was insistent on driving two relatives home from somewhere. My cousins were Larry’s daughter and his sister.
During my yoga practice, I reflected on my dream as the bridge to my unconscious, and the potential meaning of its metaphors. Its message slowly became clearer to me as I also recalled my exchange with Larry about my blog which further linked the past with the present. I recognized that the dream was a reminder for me of the importance of sustaining one’s yoga practice and how it enables one to anchor and center oneself. My family has experienced five family deaths in the past five months as well as other serious illnesses of loved ones. This has naturally taken its toll on me but I know with certainty that my yoga has greatly helped me cope with the many recent losses and challenges.
Each time I return to my mat, my yoga takes me to my center. The outer container that is my physical body remains firm (even though at times I have a sense of things seeping in or out) and there is softness and yielding within. Between these two aspects of my being, I am able to access the inner stillness and my strength. By watching and riding my breath, feeling the length of my spine in each pose, grounding through my foundation while drawing into my heart center to access the inner point of stillness and experience the range of feelings that rests within it, I experience the acute presence of each moment and I feel anchored. From this anchoring, I experience my stability, my steadfastness, my core and my acceptance.
Oftentimes, students ask for guidance in learning mindfulness and meditation. I often joke with them that I am like the GPS lady, simply providing directions. For example, in my yoga teaching and in my own personal practise, I first draw attention to the foundation of the pose and then identify the source of the action and its direction in the asana or posture while also connecting to the spine from its root to the crown of the head. Yoga teaches us how to focus, gain perspective, and compose one’s self in order to move forward. And as the mind-body integration unfolds, I am able to quiet my mind, feel grounded in my body and become more equipped to be able to steer through the turbulence. In fact, yoga is my personal GPS, ultimately guiding me home to my center.
Naturally, we each have our own personal process of grieving and manner of navigating our healing and our lives. Whether it is through the practice of yoga, walking or running, coloring or any other mindful, physical or creative process, one can release what needs to be let go of, reach inward to the core grounding or rooting in order to be less scattered, and find one’s center which is always in the present moment. Like flowing with the rip tide rather than resisting it, one can then rise to the surface and endure.
The connections and healing that I have experienced through anchoring to my foundation, spine and breath in the present moment and through my dreams and writing have been profound. Undoubtedly, yoga provides us with the invaluable facility to safely and soundly anchor and center ourselves. I recognize that in my dream my underlying fervent hope was to help guide my dear cousins – like my yoga students and my self – to find their way back to their home.
“Life’s roughest storms prove the strength of our anchor.”
Words from my earlier blog called Finding the Stillness: “…The path leads home to one’s own inner point of stillness. This is found inside of the heart. When change arrives, in its simplest or grandest form, what is constant remains.”