It has been a stressful few weeks at the job. I love my work and can identify wonderful things that happen there every single day. However, sometimes it can be trying. Sometimes people seem to be at odds with one another; sometimes someone misinterprets your words or actions; sometimes I misinterpret the words or actions of another; sometimes students are angry, frustrated, embarrassed, or sad; sometimes co-workers are angry, frustrated, embarrassed,or sad; sometimes educational decisions make no sense for students. . .
Today at work a colleague was expressing her frustrations with recent challenges in the work place and in the middle of her diatribe she stopped and said, “You are so calm, despite everything that’s going on. It must be your yoga.”
She is correct. Yoga has most definitely had a calming influence on me. Yoga and aging. The two together are a sure cure for angst and sleepless nights. At times it is difficult to define the benefits of yoga because there are so many. For me, yoga has gone from a practice to a lifestyle. It’s a lifestyle that I practice regularly, which is probably what makes it a lifestyle.
Moving through a series of asanas (poses), using my breath as a guide, allows everything else to melt away. When I step on the mat and take a moment to set an intention and look inward, my body leads the way to exactly what it needs at that moment. By focusing inward I am able to get outside my head and let go of all the thoughts from the day that are the real stressors. For me, the practice of yoga, and mindfulness through yoga, has helped me to be aware of the thoughts that come into the mind, but not to dwell in them. I have learned, through practice, to notice and let go.
Once I can get to that place of noticing and letting go I am then able to select the ideas that actually need my attention. By noticing and letting go I can later determine which of the ideas that come into my head actually need more of my attention. I find that most do not need much further reflection on my part ~ the comment a co-worker made to me is not my issue, so I can let it go; the opinion expressed to me by another is simply that – an opinion and does not warrant more of my energy. Yet, the student who came to me recently with a concern may need more of my time and energy.
Honestly, it only takes a few minutes each day to practice mindfulness, and for me it works best when I do a few asanas at the same time, getting my body moving a bit while using my breathing in an intentional way. When I have a choice to spend 10 minutes obsessing in my head over something I can’t control, or taking the time to let a multitude of ideas pass through my mind, notice what comes, and then let it go, I can take control of what I need to focus on.