By Leyla Ahmet
I have always found sitting still hard. Hanging upside down much easier. Unsurprisingly seated meditation is not part of my daily practice. I tell myself focused asana is meditation, teaching is meditation – in a way it is, I am concentrating on one thing only and 100% present but it feels a bit like cheating.
I once did Michael Brown’s “Presence Process.” 11 weeks of twice daily, 15 minute sessions of focused breathing. I enjoyed it, felt better for it but I did not create a habit that stuck.
I have dabbled with vipasana, mindfulness, candle gazing, mantra but nothing has lasted. I read articles saying, seated meditation is not for everyone. I like those articles they justify my lack of being stillness. I remember as a child stillness meant laziness. I was encouraged to read, that was ok but otherwise to be still was a waste of time, a waste of a precious day that could have been used doing something.
So what is changing – why am I determined to bring some stillness into my life now at the age of 42. Firstly I feel excited, like the time is right, I feel I am on the top of a mountain, letting go of control and about to jump deliciously into the unknown. Instead of how I previously saw myself at the bottom of a mountain with a struggle ahead. I have high blood pressure (always have) and have been diagnosed with a grade 3 tear of the medial meniscus. Something has to change and I am excited to explore this yogic path more fully.
My morning vinyasa has been replaced by yin and I am loving that. I want to resist, to fight but I am loving it – what is there to fight against?
Of course there are days when I am in a long held pose and my mind is screaming “This is not working, maybe you should just stop, send that important email, phone your mum.” But this is the work. Bringing the mind back. If it was all bliss and breath and no thoughts it would be too easy. Meditation is a bicep curl for the mind, when I visualize meditation as a work out for the mind, a way to make the mind stronger I a get determined to make more effort. Any body can meditate but can any mind?
In celebration of stillness each morning I switch coffee for herbal tea. I encourage the cat onto my lap (this does not take much encouraging). I sit with my steaming mug, binos and bird book. 30 minutes late I put down the book and start to concentrate on the sensation of the breath on my top lip as it enters and leaves my nostrils. I count, inhale 1, exhale 1, when I reach 10 I return to 1. Of course my mind wanders. I hear bird song and try to recall the bird, my baby cow moos and I wonder where her mama is, I hear the static of the badly tuned radio. Each time I come back to my breath. The delightful softness as it passes over my lip. I wonder if I should time myself and momentarily reach for the phone before pausing and realizing this is nothing more then a distracting thought. I return to the breath.
When I open my eyes the morning seems brighter, clearer. I roll out my mat and move into my yin practice. I am starting the practice centered, focused and relaxed. It is blissful. The practice floats on a new found energy of calm. As I emerge from savasana I set an intention to remain relaxed as I go about my day. To be able to be efficient but still relaxed.
I’ll let you know how the coming mornings go!