I’ve been thrilled last few weeks at the steadily rising attendance at my Monday night meditation class and really psyched about the feedback I have been getting from students. Many are seeing shifts in their lives for the better. One who struggles with anger has noticed marked improvement in the way they react to known triggers and another shared that they have seen improvements with a difficult situation in their workplace.
I’m excited by this feedback, but not at all surprised. The reason why I’ve dedicated my life to sharing meditation and mindfulness practices with people is because it has radically changed my life. I’ll be honest with you. Before I started to take the practices of yoga and meditation seriously, I used to be a miserable bitch. I was aggressive and selfish. I was very reactive toward difficult people. I gossiped quite a bit. I was manipulative. I wasn’t always honest. I didn’t think carefully about how my words impacted others. I thought the world owed me something. To cope with stress, I turned to anti-depressants and I drank way too much wine. When I look back now, the "me" that exists today would avoid being friends with the "me" of long ago. I wouldn’t even want to be in the same room with her.
I hope it doesn't sound like I am being hard on myself because what I'm trying to be is candid and vulnerable. I've found forgiveness toward the miserable bitch. I think my behavior was largely a function of not knowing a different way. I had a tough set of circumstances which included being widowed at a young age and raising three kids on my own. Of course, a lot of us get dealt really raw deals. When I think about it now, the most difficult aspect of it was not the tragic event but it was not having spiritual tools to work with to cope with the stress. We all need healthy and effective ways to manage our internal landscape and find a way to be calm and peaceful no matter what life was throws at us. Because life will always throw something at us, of that we can be sure.
Yoga and meditation changed everything for me. Beyond the stretching and the physical exercise yoga is a complete system of ancient philosophies that are designed to shift your world view. Besides the physical work I do on my mat, I observe diligently the yamas and niyamas which are the ethical practices of yoga. I practice pranayama, the breathing practices which allow me to stay centered and present. I’m a big believer of pratyahara, which is withdrawal of the senses. I interpret that one as avoidance of information that upsets my peace of mind. This is why I don’t watch TV and I'm careful who I interact with. In addition, I meditate daily and I go on retreat periodically.
I can say now that I’m proud of the person I've evolved to be. Of course, this will always be a work in progress, but I feel good about where I am and where I'm headed. There is no doubt in my mind that I owe it to these practices and that is why I’m devoted to sharing them with students.
I’m teaching a workshop on Sunday afternoon at LIV about yoga philosophy and the eight limbs of yoga. The info is below. I’ll be focusing on what yoga can offer to you, beyond the physical postures and will lead a discussion about how to implement the ancient practices into your modern life to achieve lasting results. Hope to see you there.