Spring Cleaning for Mental Clutter

Society values multi tasking and efficiency.  These skills are considered necessary for companies to thrive in today's competitive marketplace.  We now talk on the phone or listen to a book while going about our daily tasks.  Always on the go, time is a commodity.  The more we can accomplish in a shorter amount of time, the better ... or is it?   There is certainly a time and place for these efforts, but sometimes it can be a bit too much.  We may find ourselves with a bit of mental clutter.  Here are my 3 simple steps to begin mentally decluttering.  

  1. Slow Down - It is important to schedule some time to slow down, quiet your mind, and restore.  For a healthy way to slow down, I prefer yoga and meditation.  Other helpful practices include walking in nature, playing music, praying, journaling, or reading spiritual books.  It is important to schedule this time, and make it a priority.  If you regularly take the time to slow down, you will be able to access the skill when it is necessary in steps 2 & 3.   

  2. Listen - Dictionary.com defines listen as  "to give attention with the ear; attend closely for the purpose of hearing".  We must first practice listening to ourselves before we can ever truly listen to others.  Begin to become more sensitive to your gut instincts and physical cues that your body uses to communicate with you (tight shoulders, breath changes, etc).  Ask yourself what story is behind a particular feeling or instinct.  Use your practice of slowing down from step 1 to become a better listener.  We must be able to refine the art of internal listening if we ever want to be able to truly listen to others.

  3. Trust - It is impossible to slow down and listen without the element of trust.  Stop any urges to judge what your are hearing, how well your meditation is going, what you should be doing instead.  If you are practicing listening to yourself, give yourself permission to trust your instincts.  If you are practicing listening to others, fight the urge to solve their problems or judge what they are saying.  Less judgement and more trust will help free you from unnecessary mental clutter.

These are skills that I am beginning to refine after 16 years of yoga practice.  When I am able to get it right, I can feel a physical sense of lightness in my body and focus in my mind.  Notice the physical feelings that you have when you are actively listening to yourself.  Take that practice, and use it when you are interacting with others.  The ability to clear out enough mental clutter to slow down, truly listen, and trust ourselves and others is a highly rewarding practice that is well worth the effort.

 

Namaste - Beth

 

 

 

 

Yoga dependency?

While discussing dependency with a coworker,  I stated that I don't want to be dependent on anything, coffee, alcohol, etc.  She challenged me with "you practice yoga every day, so you're dependent on that".  I guess I am, but I have  been pondering the statement since our conversation.

Can one be dependent on yoga?  Well, to some extent, my answer is yes.  I am also dependent on water, food, air and sleep.  Most days I do hit the mat for at least 20 minutes.  Sometimes I'm lucky, and I take an all day yoga workshop.  On the days when I'm not in physical practice, I attempt to maintain a yogic outlook during my daily activities.  Yoga helps me connect with who I am, and I love seeing that yogic bliss after a student has had a particularly good practice.  Sharing that moment is my reason for teaching yoga.  

Yoga offers substantial benefits to the practitioner.  Call it dependent, or call it being a yogi.  Yoga offers numerous benefits.  My students and I have experienced many benefits including, but not limited to increased strength, increased flexibility, improved sleep, decreased pain, decreased anxiety, stress management, improved balance, improved posture, decreased anger, decreased fear, and decreased visits to the chiropractor.  Who wouldn't want to be dependent on something with that many benefits?  

Yoga classes are generally very nurturing environments.  The goal is to learn to meet yourself where you are right now.  There is no competing with others, and no pose that you have to reach.  Yoga can challenge you, or bring you to relaxation and restoration.  Often times, both are experienced in the same class.  If you're not a regular yoga practitioner, find an experienced teacher & start feeling the rewards for yourself.

 

Namaste - Beth

YOGA, MORE THAN PHYSICAL PRACTICE

Yoga's root word means union, or yolking.  When you join the mind, body, and breath, a profound sense of ease and joy can be accessed.  That connection and feeling is what separates the practice of asana (yoga poses) from calisthenics.  As a former distance runner and recreational cyclist, I have noticed similar experiences during those activities.  After the first 2 miles or so, I was always able to connect the patterns of my breath and cadence, and experience an easy, grounded sense of calm.  It was not unlike the feeling that I get during meditation, or yoga practice.

 As a yoga instructor, I find great joy and peace while helping students find that experience.  I am becoming increasingly aware that there are many ways for people to make that connection.  For years, my mother has heard me speaking of my experiences during yoga class, and frequently states, "it's kinda like when I'm quilting".  I'd usually listen respectfully, but I was completely disconnected from her thought process.  Recently, I have observed many true artists, such as the chef, photographer, musician, and painter.  Very much like yogis, these people keenly tune their senses to the task at hand.  What I mean is, that focused ease that is what separates yoga from physical exercise.     

Much like the artist or athlete who is in the zone, the yogi is able to turn inward, and the need to compete with the yogi on the next mat ceases.  As we practice, we begin to carry that grounded, serene feeling into the rest of our lives.  That, is the magic of yoga, and why I practice continually, on and off the mat.


Photo credit Jeromy Dobson

Photo credit Jeromy Dobson

Namaste - Beth