by Mary Fowler
I LIKE IT. I WANT MORE. I DON'T LIKE IT. TAKE IT AWAY.
I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel like a two-year old when I get hung up in choosing for or against conditions. Take today. Right now. This instant. The rain. It’s a biblical deluge outside my window. I don’t like it. I want it to stop. Actually, I don’t just want it to stop raining. I want it to be sunny, warm, a perfect weather day.
I want it to be last Friday afternoon. It was beautiful and I was walking along a wooded trail that hugs the shoreline of the Raritan Bay. I was with my friend who teaches the digital photography class I’m taking. Everywhere my eye went that afternoon, a photo opportunity appeared. This abundance had a lot to do with my teacher Amy’s artistic sensibility. She’s taught me to discover the photos present everywhere.
Left to my own devices, I’d be choosing for or against. Hung up by my mind. Constricted by my judgment and clouded vision, I’d be on the hunt for that one perfect show stopping image.
Nature photography reminds me to be present to what is as is. It’s pretty easy to be in this state when on an artist date with a friend or with yourself beneath a bright blue sky on a warm spring day.
How do we be okay with what is as is when the weather conditions are otherwise? How do we learn to accept conditions that bring us sorrow, pain, suffering, disease? How do we learn not to cling to conditions that bring us joy, ecstasy, happiness, contentment? That’s correct. We don’t want to choose for or against any mood state. We simple want to be okay with what is as is. How do we do that?
When I went to the Amrit Institute to learn how to teach the meditative practice of Yoga Nidra, Amrit Desai known as Gurudev, offered this strategy to those of us who had come to learn his technique.
“Tell your mind to shut up,” he said.
Everyone including Gurudev burst into laughter. Still, Amrit was totally serious. Present day neuroscience corroborates what yogis have known for centuries. The human mind cannot think it’s thoughts and at the same time rest in awareness. That’s why meditation is both the path to being with what is as is and the state of being okay with what is as is. When we are with what is as is, we are not choosing for or against.
How do we tell the mind to shut up? Just like the camera lens captures only what is in view, the human mind cannot be ensnared by our desires and disturbances while we consciously focus on our breathing. Where do we begin?
FOLLOW THE BREATH.
The breath is the path to the inner space of emptiness that is neither positive nor negative, for or against. When sorrow comes, breathe into it. When happiness leaves, breathe into that space. Don’t struggle with its leaving or coming. Simply follow the breath. Breathing in. Breathing out. Breathe to the count of four. Bring conscious awareness to your breath anywhere you happen to be. The breath will always bring you home to center that is within each of us. That center is stillness.
Once we are still, once the mind has been quieted, we rest in awareness. What does that mean?
REST IN AWARENESS.
Awareness does not choose. It notices what is as is. For instance, while I’ve been at my computer writing this blog, I noticed the weather. Not the weather as I wanted it to be but the weather as it is. It has changed from biblical deluge to partly sunny to partly cloudy, from partly cloudy to rain to mostly sunny, from spring cool to warm.
With enough practice, we learn not to repeatedly check the weather, or try to change it, or get irritated because it’s not sunny or warm or both. We learn not to blur today thinking about how the weather might ruin tomorrow’s hike. We discover how to simply be with what is as is and know that there is no need to attach to thoughts or emotions. Know that this too shall pass, happy or sad.
No need to struggle. Release to let go. Rest in awareness. Be still.
In the stillness, we find the Buddha, resting in awareness. No need to choose. Simply be with what is as is. Awesome.
Yogi Amrit Desai is one of the earliest pioneers of yoga in the West, and is one of the few remaining living yoga masters who originally brought over the authentic teachings of yoga in the early 1960s. He is the creator of two brands of yoga, Kripalu Yoga and I AM Yoga, and is the founder of five yoga and health centers in the US. His yoga training programs have reached more than 40 countries worldwide and over 8,000 teachers have been certified. Learn more about the teachings and life of yogi Amrit Desai here»
ABOUT MARY FOWLER
Mary Fowler is an author and personal development, self-care coach. She also provides professional staff development trainings to educators working with students with emotional and behavioral issues. She specializes in developing safe, stable and nurturing environments along with practical strategies for students experience problems related to trauma, adverse childhood experiences, or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Mary practices yoga and mindful awareness. www.maryfowler.com