Unfolding on the Mat
Expanded Content and Thoughtful Guidance
I have to admit, I don't love it when my alarm goes off. I don't spring out of bed ready to start the day!! I use the snooze several times, then I read the daily missive by Richard Rohr, and contemplate sleeping ten more minutes. And when it's cold outside I REALLY want to stay snuggled in under the warm blankets and do the "yoga of more sleep."
But that's not how my best self shows up for the day. My best self shows up when I hit snooze, read, then get out of bed and start my morning routine that leads to my mat with my personal practice. THE WHOLE DAY is better!
And this is the time of year that I have to DOUBLE DOWN.
Every year I hear from sad students who say things were going so well until the holidays, then everything got out of whack. "Oh well, I'll start again in January," they say--on November 29!
This is because change in schedule and routine can take us out of balance. We easily lose our center when our to-do list expands to include lots of shopping, preparing, planning, and visiting.
I do not say this to shame anyone. I say this to offer an alternative to the holiday gluttony-guilt-repent-detox cycle.
It's called the recenter-recenter-recenter-recenter cycle.
I recently met Thea Wood of Backstage Chats Foundation at a meetup sponsored by Austin Podcasters and Austin Lady Pods. We were each talking about our podcasts, and after I told the name of mine (Ready, Get Centered, Go!), she asked a great question:
"What is the difference between centering and meditation?"
I believe the main difference is intention--both the intention of the practice, and that centering, in my opinion, is about intention-setting for your day, week, year, whatever. Meditation calms the mind and teaches focus; it creates change by actively linking to an image; and it can teach you that you are not your thoughts.
Centering with an intention infuses your mind and body with a positive desired experience or state that you can return to again and again and again.
Every podcast (or class opening chat) is intention-setting. We get centered around a theme or idea that we know will improve our lives and lead us towards a happier existence. So my intention right now is borrowed from Nike:
Just Do It.
Just get up. Just go to the mat. Just sit for ten minutes and get your head on straight. Just go to class. I have to leave myself no option! The goblins of "there isn't time," or "but I really need to..." or "maybe tomorrow" are loud, but unsuccessful when I remember to keep my intention.
To make it more than a thought, to breathe life into it as an intention, to start the recenter cycle, here are the three steps:
1) STOP what you are doing.
2) BREATHE deeper.
3) FEEL your intention fill your body as you think it on the breath.
This week's podcast is seasonally appropriate, as the intention is THANK YOU. Once again, I suggest you stop to do this one. Breathe with the instructions, and get recentered as you feel gratitude fill your body. You might just avoid the "holiday cycle" this year.
May you take the time to stop and recenter on what's important, again and again and again.
Jessica lives, has a family, and teaches yoga in Austin, Texas.