Day 4 – Yoga Yoga Mindfulness Meditation Series, Working with the Mind
We began our journey into the mind on day four of this series. We took our time getting here, as a more keen awareness of the body and emotions is critical to this exploration. In the world today, many of us have an abundance of information at our fingertips. As a result, the mind can be fully occupied, and at times clouding our awareness of the physical and emotional body. These regions of our being hold great wisdom and information about both our past and our present. Becoming better attuned to all three of these wisdom centers is key to leading a more balanced life.
If we give ourselves a few moments of quiet, we notice how easily the mind can fill the space. This tendency keeps us on the go, leaving little opportunity for rest and replenishment. More so, the mind can spin stories in ways that are neither accurate, nor beneficial. We can get caught recycling stories from the past over and over again or even anticipating into the future without skill. The willingness to slow down and pause is critical at this stage of inquiry. If we don’t, stories and anticipations will grow without our awareness. All the ways in which we occupy ourselves require some level of resource and energy. If we find ourselves getting compulsively and unconsciously swept away in every direction the mind wanders, we will likely find ourselves feeling depleted and ungrounded over time.
As we begin to explore the space of the mind, we will use the breath as our anchor. Attending to the breath will disrupt the flow and the building of the stories. Every time the mind wanders, no matter for how long or how often, we take time to recognize, allow, investigate and return. We can investigate the nature of our thoughts in a few ways: by remaining present to the essence of the thoughts, labeling or naming the thoughts, or simply calling it “thinking”. Different techniques will appeal to different people, and our practice will become tailored to each of us, rather than one method that is strictly followed. Regardless of how we investigate, our capacity to be aware gives us the opportunity to step outside of our story, instead of being swept away. We begin to see the thoughts and patterns more consciously and discern which patterns are beneficial and wholesome, and which are not. We can observe how identified we feel with the stories and whether our stories are accurate or skewed. Does the ability to be aware of them give us the space to maintain a more broad perspective? Do the stories have more deeply layered stories beneath them? Are the stories a part of who we are or is a thought simply a passing and changing moment in the space of the mind?
As we dive deep into this inquiry, we will begin to find the opportunity to free ourselves from the stories that makes us feel limited. Instead of being steeped in a narrow narrative about who we are and how life is, we begin to see life as a constantly evolving and changing flow of events. We can disarm the limiting self talk and allow our spirit to trust the potential that lies within us. The point of meditation is not to clear the thoughts or to fix them, but to step into our natural capacity for presence and wakefulness. It is a subtle practice of fully experiencing the moment, while not being fully identified by it. This will require a lot of practice and dedication in order for benefits to flourish and manifest.
Continue practicing this week with a renewed sense of curiosity and interest, and ground your inquiry with patience, kindness and humor. I hope you will find that insights and healing begin to unravel in time and with consistency. As we begin to pay attention and offer kind receptivity to whatever story is arising, the story becomes workable, rather than something that narrows or limits us. Each moment can begin to feel as though it is filled with more opportunity and potential than we otherwise imagined.
“You are the sky. Everything else, it’s just the weather.” ~ Pema Chodron