Life is crazy sometimes. There is constant change and waves of emotion. Right now, I have feelings of extreme gratitude and, simultaneously, I feel fed up with some of the so-called “norms” in our society. What can we do when things feel so out-of-wack? One special word that helps me during difficult times: awareness.
Awareness of our body and mind. Awareness of the stress we accumulate within our body. Awareness of our relationships and how we react to various situations. Awareness of the foods we eat. Awareness of our emotions. Awareness of judgments we pass on ourselves and others.
Do something for me right now: take a deep breath through your nose and fill up your belly. As you hold your breath for a moment, take a look outside and feel your heart beating in your chest. Can you feel it? The only thing we have in this life is our body, and we don’t even HAVE a body. We ARE our body. We get so disconnected from this.
Why is this important? Being aware of all our experiences and our reactions to them will bring more peace and balance into our lives. If we remain aware of what causes us stress we can begin the process of eliminating it. If we are not able to eliminate it—if it’s outside of our control—then we can change our reaction to it. Being aware of our emotions allows us to feel them and let them go.
Now, you might be thinking, “I’ve got so much shit going on, I don’t want to tap into my emotions. It would hurt too much so I’m neglecting them on purpose!” I think we all can relate to this. However, when we don’t feel our emotions fully, they build up within our body. This build-up results in tension, even more pain and, ultimately, disease. Allowing ourselves to process our difficult emotions will help release them so we can move on. Move on from pain and sadness to things like love and gratitude. There is always something to be grateful for in this life. The people you love and the people who love you. The breeze against your cheeks and the sun warming your face. Watching snow fall silently and the sound of a loved one’s laughter. Being fully present and in the moment. There are so many tools to help us tap into the NOW.
For me, asana (yoga postures) and focusing on my breath serve this purpose. This may not be your tool and that’s OK. There’s always something you can do to minimize the nonstop chatter in your mind. Get into your body!! Maybe for you this is going on a walk or run, playing music, singing, dancing, swimming, rock climbing. Whatever it is, it’s the process of connecting the mind and body. Union of mind and body is the definition of Yoga.
So, when I feel like everything is falling apart, I try my best to remain aware of all these feelings. I pause, take a breath, and remember that I have so much to be grateful for. Grateful for things like a roof over my head, true friendships, and my ability to breathe through it all. If you struggle with being aware, you might consider joining the Yoga Psychology Teacher Training with me and Dr. Nick this coming Spring. We can help you learn to become aware and learn to appreciate both the pain and the beauty of this life, as there is not one without the other.