calming the mind through a yoga practice

Much like our passing thoughts, soap bubbles arrive in a flurry. Scattering randomly into the ether they seize attention and cloud the horizon. Similar to fluctuating thoughts, they last only for a few seconds before bursting either on their own or upon contact. Some may have a thicker film and endure a second longer than others, but mostly they are unsustainable. They are empty. They arise, and then off they go. As I contemplate this imagery and consider the impermanent nature of these hollow spheres, I am reminded once again of the fluent climate of the conscious mind. That reminder ushers in an opening, and in this doorway I find myself turning to that ever present possibility of taming the weather inside. I arrive on my mat with energies scattered. In a thousand different directions I lean. I once heard someone compare the mind to that of a hotel concierge with a hundred guests in need of attention… at once. I have also been warned of the dangers of the mind and how “it’s best not to go there alone.” Solo I go all the same. No striving. We’ll just see what unfolds here on this two by six foot space. With each inhale, but more so the exhale I begin to sense the subtlest of shifts. I’m still leaning forward into the next task. My mind still seems situated in a remote place somewhere outside of my body. Detached. Yet, a glimmer of spaciousness has begun to surface. The endless thoughts are not quite so clustered. Their arrival has grown somewhat intermittent. I dive deeper physically. I begin to receive the breath deeper in the torso and release it consciously- elongating the exhale. I am invited to bring the palms together at center and then a short while later to dial them forward at my side. Dial of course. What an absolutely brilliant verb to employ. And, such a splendid action for the limbs to take. My mind now wanders to the perfect sense that makes. Physically, I discover the natural release that floods in this simple effort. Inhale. Exhale. The breath is my cue as I tilt the hips and the heart up and then counter that motion by rounding the spine. I’ve now been at this for some twenty or so minutes. Shifting energy down through the soles of both feet, sinking the hips, lengthening up beyond the skin of my finger tips. Moving now with greater ease, slowly I twist right and then left. Equal standing in both legs. A reminder to breath is again offered. Paying some better attention now, I embrace this cue. Suddenly, there seems a greater capacity in the lungs. My full attention shifts to this zone. While distraction in the mind persists, that current of thoughts is not quite so rapid. I take another breath that is true. Another turn and I find myself shifting weight to one side of the body stretching everything away from my center. Many days the stars refuse to align, I must be content with whatever token of balance I can snatch. On those days the soft focus cannot be found. Forty-five minutes into my practice and I am still leaning way forward. The hollow bubbles of thought win out. But, today this is not the story. Today, my body has wrestled and won my full attention. When the instructor suggests we “insist that our base leg remain firm.”, I inhale and exhale and make that internal demand. I lift the heart and allow the twist to begin somewhere internally. The spine is long. I am blissfully attending to all of the intricacies of this peak pose to where I have been invited. The frantic state of mind which I sported a short while ago is so not occurring to me in this sacred moment. I am free. For a shining instant the mind is tame. My eyes are now coming to close as I fold forward. I feel the earth rising up to support me. The physical effort is dropping away. The breath becomes easier. There’s more space in the body. The mind is quieter. For now the bubbles have receded, and the slate feels clear. I savor this rest, soak up this ease and simply listen to that news that comes in silence. Best part of my day. A patch of words so brilliantly strung together by Mary Oliver drifts into my consciousness… “So this is how you swim inward. So this is how you flow outward. So, this is how you pray…” Read next >> how yoga got my mind right