Mindful awareness

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Centered Stillness

I start all my yoga classes and home practices with at least 5 minutes of settling in to center the mind. Last night several students seemed apprehensive, fidgety, and not completely sold on the idea of using their precious time this way. I got the idea that they thought the time “wasted”. Or perhaps they are unfamiliar, therefore uncomfortable, with the stillness. We are all used to doing and are less likely to spend much of our time being. However, yoga practice is intended to be mindful, to slow us down, to find stillness in movement. That is what makes it yoga rather than stretching and calisthenics.

Focusing on deep breaths helps to transition from whatever happened prior to practice to time on the mat. Centering helps to still the mind and body, releasing any emotion - from anger and frustration to fatigue and elation - so that we can be completely present for our practice. Being centered prepares us to move mindfully. It can prevent us from being careless; something that often results in physical injury.

Centering is a yoga practice that I take with me into my life off the mat. It helps me to focus and be present for the activity I am about to start. A few breaths are all I need to transition from one emotion and place to the next. What would happen if you took time to center yourself before beginning a meal? How might your gym routine benefit if you transitioned from a stressful day at the office before starting weight training? How might a confrontational meeting with your spouse or teenager differ if you took time to center and find stillness breathing deeply for several minutes before the discussion?

Maybe with practice you can come to value time used to center and prepare your mind and body as you transition to the next activity. Maybe you can become more comfortable with stillness.

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