In daily life, our minds are constantly being distracted and we are often used to juggling a multitude of things on an hourly basis. Our senses are bombarded much more frequently than we are consciously aware of. Is it any surprise then, that when we come to sit quietly, we don’t feel comfortable?
We become familiar with what we are surrounded by and the habits we form. Therefore, if we are used to being on the go, it's natural to find it hard to relax. Personally, I’m so used to being busy and am often out in the evenings that when I do get an evening in, I don’t know what to do with myself. So I fall into autopilot mode and find other jobs around the house to fuel my 'busy' habit, rather than giving myself time to rest and rejuvenate.
Connecting to stillness in a busy world
Yoga is the practice of learning to quieten the mind and body to come to a place of peace. We practise meditation and asana to connect to the stillness deep within. The stillness we can reach when the waves of the mind are calmed.
The ancient sages of India used to live in nature with very few material possessions. They took themselves out of the material world in order to connect to the Universal spirit. They would sit for hours in meditation high up in the Himalayas. They had no job to rush off to, no tasks to hurry to complete. They could spend their time concentrating on one thing, at a time.
Imagine if someone said to you: "You have to give up your life and go and live in the mountains with nothing to do but meditate." For most people, the idea of this is scary and overwhelming. We're not used to living like that; concentrating on one thing at a time. Our lives often involve juggling many things at once, just to keep afloat. We have become so conditioned by modern society to think that being busy means being successful that we no longer feel guilt-free when relaxing and fundamentally, we don’t know how to. We spend our time trying to switch off in front of screens hoping to feel a sense of release.
We have become so conditioned by modern society to think that being busy means being successful that we no longer feel guilt-free when relaxing and -fundamentally - we don’t know how to.
The healing power of nature
Nature is there to heal us. It’s the place where our connection to the world around us is the most apparent. We come from nature, not from the material world we have built. Yet, most people would be terrified to live without their internet, phone or TV.
To me, it seems we almost crave the distractions we have made for ourselves. Within these distractions we feel safe, despite them not necessarily being the best things for us. But if we were to spend lots of time on our own in the mountains, that would become our new habit, and that would be the place in which we would feel comfortable. We wouldn’t need our ‘relaxing’ distractions anymore to switch off. We would become fulfilled in a different and healthier way.
It's the same when we first start out practicing yoga and meditation. It’s so alien to us that our mind fights against us. The practice forces us to change something fundamental in our routine and the mind creates conflict. But if we persevere, our mind eventually begins to learn a new habit. It relaxes into this new way of life. We replace our ‘relaxing’ distractions with something that offers us all round health and vitality.
It seems we have reached a point where we need yoga now more than ever. We need yoga to help us find the time to just be in this hectic world.
So the next time you practise, think about that quiet mountain top and delve into the peace and quiet of nature, confident that one day you will be comfortable there.
Embrace the silence and connect with your self, your heart, with nature and with other people on a deeper level in this Hatha / Restorative class with Irina.