Who Stubbed My Toe?
*Excerpt from How Yoga Works by Geshe Michael Roach
Six weeks ago I enrolled in an MBSR (Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction) course. Mediation is the main practice taught, but it’s not all about sitting and thinking about nothing... rather its nothing like that.
I have practiced being in the present moment. Whenever negative thoughts and painful sensations arise I practice bringing compassion, kindness, and breath to be able to sit with it, experience the feelings and not suppress them. By listening to what my body needs, adjusting to different styles of meditation (walking, standing, sitting, lying, movement), I am able to practice self-compassion and self-love. These are difficult to cultivate in a world where there is so much striving. Striving to look different, to be somewhere else, to have wealth, to have a different life than what we do right now.
How does one live life if they are not actually here?
Can one be here if one’s mind is striving for there?
If you have not practiced meditation, I am sure there have been times in your life that you have felt present moment awareness...Maybe being with babies, surfing, playing an instrument, or accomplishing something you worked so hard for. On the flip side, I know we have all experienced autopilot. When you do something without thinking and you may not even remember if you brushed your teeth or locked the door.
The practice of mindfulness is powerful, life-changing, and requires consistency. It can be a tool to turn the autopilot off.
The practice of observing the mind without judgement, observing the reactions it has to things and people due to assumptions and past experiences is mindfulness.
Mindfulness, present moment awareness, allows you to pause before you quickly react. You can watch your mind create a story and by watching it develop you then have the ability to stop that story from resulting in inappropriate physical or verbal action.
“And if you think about it, its a lot easier to get upset if someone else steps on your toe than if you stub it yourself. If you can keep in mind that it’s your own mind making you see the corporal as annoying, you might be able to stop yourself from getting upset…”
In the quote above it explains that your mind makes you see the world in a certain way, this way is not the same as someone else sees it. If you start to question why you see the world in such a way you’ll notice the mind has an inborn tendency to misunderstand people and things for what they truly are. Bringing awareness to this has profound effects, yet it’s a lifelong practice.
When we are in a moment of pleasure or pain we quickly lose control over ourselves, even those who practice mindfulness, and so we don’t remember that it’s actually the mind making us see things the way we do. “We are stubbing our own toe, but we feel strongly that someone else must be stepping on it: we grasp to that mistaken notion. And then it triggers, very quickly, a very wrong chain of events.” (except from same book)
Through the practice of yoga and meditation, you are strengthening the observation and compassion muscles. When I sit in meditation and my mind wanders off, I simply bring my attention back to my breath. I don’t judge myself, I bring compassion to the fact that my mind keeps wandering. I simply observe that it happened and bring it back, it’s a constant practice of bringing the Mind back to the NOW.
The NOW is where Life Happens.
Practicing presence on the mat helps to be present off the mat.
“Live Dirty, Eat Clean & Green”,