The Buddha said, “I am not enlightened, I am merely awake.” What does it mean to be awake? Most of us spend our lives in relative states of “un-consciousness.” Sometimes we undergo a big, dramatic, once-in-a-lifetime awakening—such as a near-death experience—or we can occasionally experience subtler awakenings, such as hearing a story that resonates deep in our beings and creates a shift in consciousness.
All the talk lately about mindfulness got me thinking: do I really know what this is and how to practice it? If I wondered about how to be mindful, I imagine others did, too. So, I took my questions to an expert, Cara Bradley, author, yoga and meditation teacher, and founder of Verge Yoga in Philadelphia, PA.
Last time I went to the airport, I saw a small boy with his hands and cheeks up against a large glass window. He watched the planes take off over and over again with a look of awe smudged across his face. His reflection held a sense of luminous possibility, as if he realized he could fly too. I stood there, tired and anxious to get to on my flight, witnessing something magical.
France is my happy place. I don’t know if I can even describe it, but France just has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes me feel at home.
We are always looking to find the magic bullet—the thing that will fix everything for all time. What would be the fun in that? Where is the mastery and challenge in life when we just want to do something once and be done with it? We are always wanting to check things off the list. It’s part of being human. So how do we drop into commitments, and doing something better for ourselves? We must commit, but then recommit by making our new habits bulletproof.
We are a proud people of the mentality “gotta’ do more, gotta’ be more,” where it’s common practice to boast about the busyness of it all and go, go, go until life is gone, gone, gone. I get tired just thinking of the running around that is inherent to the life culture of the masses. What we forget is that our ability to exert ourselves is proportionate to our ability to rest and rejuvenate. To that end, we must create as much time and space in our daily life to rest and restore. These days, all doctors’ orders should be something in this realm. Here are some ways to encourage restoration in your daily life.
Of the many wonderful things I’ve learned through my yoga practice, some of the best have come from exploring poses and theories that scare me. For some of these poses, the fear has risen up and I’ve acknowledged it, without the need to delve deeper at that time. For others, I’ve moved past the fear with the desire to take up the challenge it presents.
Yoga is such a gift to all those that have the opportunity to be touched by its unique and special gifts. Opportunity here is the keyword, as yoga is truly a privileged experience that isn’t available to all. There are many individuals and communities of people that, for various reasons, won’t ever be exposed to the healing potential of this practice. This past week, when teaching a yoga class to a group of at-risk, sixth-grade students at a low-income elementary school, I realized just how important it was to gift the experience of yoga to these kinds of groups.
You only live once, creating a model of not enough time — a poverty of time. With a sense of so little time, we become scattered, searching to always have the right answers, the right car, the right job, the right yoga practice, and the right pose.
Have you ever decided to do something momentous, and had no idea what you were jumping into: launching a career, getting married, having a baby, or—even writing a book?