I am participating in Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s 21 Day Meditation experience. I have done one of their 21 Day Meditation experiences before, a few months ago. They give beautiful guided meditations and it is a wonderful way to establish a consistent meditation practice. I was pretty good about meditating each day before work, last school year, but I fell out of my routine when summer hit. This meditation experience started on my first official day back at work and I thought it would be a great way to re-establish my routine.
The title of Day 3’s meditation was “I Am Peace.” It spoke about embodying peace itself. What I took from the meditation is learning to have inner peace in all situations, not just when life is easy, but even amongst the turbulent times.
I do not always do this. But, GAH,..oh how I want to.
This meditation resonated with me deeply, and I thought it about for a long time after and have sorted through some of those thoughts enough to form a (hopefully) coherent enough post.
At different points and phases in my life, it was important to me to be different things. When I was much younger, it was important for me to be perceived as pretty and funny. Then I wanted to be the academic, high achiever. Then I wanted to be the young professional, who was wise beyond her years. I guess I would be lying if I said a small part of me still does not still want those things, but I feel myself shifting to a different phase, where I really just want peace.
Chasing and wanting some of those other things did bring me academic and career success, however, the drive to keep achieving and conquering even bigger goals also brought me anxiety, pressure and chronic dissatisfaction. Although I did achieve my goals, sometimes I was not present or relaxed enough to enjoy those moments.
When life gets stressful (as it tends to do) my natural reaction is to let stress consume me, become tense in my neck and shoulders, put pressure on myself to quickly make things better and work harder and harder to try to avoid this type of stress again. It’s a losing cycle.
I have been working on being at peace, even in those stressful situations. I have been trying to not let myself become consumed by situations, but remain steady even through turbulent waters. I am not always successful, but have noticed vast improvements.
I have been thinking about this more and more when in the asana portion of my yoga practice. I had a yoga teacher once who cued one of my least favorite poses (i.e.-hated!), Boat Pose, Navasana, he said, “let this pose be less about the core and more about finding peace in a difficult situation.”
GAH! How do I find peace when my abs are shaking and my quads are quivering? How do I find peace when I am trying to keep my sternum lifted and my spine long, and all I want to do is collapse in a heap on my mat and sigh out like my bulldog does when she’s overwhelmed (this happens often)?
That has become my real work in this pose. As soon as it is cued in class, my mind gets frantic and my true work becomes calming myself down, even in the stressful situation.
I find myself using a similar line of teaching when I teach Chair Pose (Utkatasana). This actually happens to be one of my of my favorite poses, but I find this is one that most people really seem to get stressed about. I notice from the dirty looks I get when I cue this pose, that it causes that same type of tension for others, that I feel with Boat Pose. I try to teach this pose with this thought in my mind and remind my students to find their peace in it.
Yoga has given me the amazing gift to practice these concepts both on and off my mat. I will continually strive to become peace both on and off the mat. I know this is better my own health, and the world around me. How many of us don’t want world peace? I would love it if even just my own surrounding world were constantly peaceful. But, how can I expect something out of others, that I am not willing to work at myself?