“ You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in every moment.” Thoreau
I have tried to practice yoga and meditation many times in my life but it wasn’t until recently that I was able to get into it and feel the benefits. I knew that if I could get into it, it would be extremely beneficial for my emotional and physical health, but the truth is that it made me more anxious. The first time I tried it was at a small studio when I lived in Brooklyn. At the time I was extremely stressed out and overwhelmed with anxiety. Friends raved that I had to try it. It would change my life. I remember walking in off the loud street to a beautiful dimly lit space. There were colorful curtains and some candles. At first I felt a sense of calm come over me. Then when all the students had arrived and the teacher instructed us to close our eyes and listen to our breath, the same intense anxiety I had been feeling before I walked in came back ten-fold. I couldn’t quiet my mind enough to focus on what she has instructing. The calm of the space and the idea that I could spend 45 minutes relaxing actually made me more anxious. My mind was whirling with worries. It was more than I could stand. I just wasn’t ready. So I left and got an iced coffee and headed to the gym and continued my running routine. I tried it a few other times over the years only to have the same experience. Last year things changed.
If you trust the timing of your life and meet yourself where you are now amazing things can happen. If we aren’t honest with ourselves about where we are at, it is very difficult to figure out where we want to go and what path we need to take to get there. It is very easy to think about where we wish we were in our lives and get discouraged about how we are going to get there. Or to look at where others are on their path and wish we were farther along on ours. But once we get clear as to where we are starting from the path often shows itself.
Last year when I started meditating and tried to practice yoga I found it immediately helpful but initially felt some frustration with myself and my practice. I thought that right off the bat I should be able to do it for longer, or find more calm, or get more results. Then I shifted my focus. I told myself that I had to trust that I was exactly where I was supposed to be on my path and that if I was patient and present my next steps would make themselves known. Initially I found it difficult to sit and meditate for an extended period of time, so I started by making things I was already doing more meditative. I have always loved walking. I find it calming and invigorating. So I started getting up early and doing meditative walking on the beach before work. I would listen to different guided meditations as I walked. Not only did this allow me to relax while I was doing it, but I also found that for hours afterwards I was calmer and more able to focus. Soon I felt ready to start sitting and meditating while listening to guided meditations. Then after some time I became able to meditate on my own. I am now able to sit and meditate and just be. It’s become a practice that I depend on to feel centered and focused and I can’t imagine not doing it. This practice makes me more able to be present in the moment and feel the gratitude for the things and people I have in my life. This in turn makes me able to move with more ease into the unknown future.