One concern I sometimes face when I think about yoga, or any type of spirituality practice, is that nothing will change once I leave the studio. It bugged me at the beginning of last August when school was about to start. I knew that the school year was going to face me with harder classes and a heavier workload than the year before. It’s easy enough to be satisfied with myself on a yoga matt during a bright summer day, but when I’m in a classroom slouched over a desk completely immersed in my studies my tranquility is harder to maintain.Anyone who has tried postures that involve balancing on one foot know it’s easier to stay balanced if the gaze is fixed on a still point. In the high stress environment of a University, things move quickly and it’s difficult to find a still point.
The advice most often heard for stressful situations is “just breathe”. Then maybe you do take those breathes, but it doesn’t work because you shortly realize that the project is still due the following morning. This isn’t vacation anymore.
From a yogic perspective, we know those deep breathes don’t instantly solve your problems, in fact, they don’t even make the situation less stressful. What the breathes do is make us let go of the inhibitors in our mind and body that we think serve us but actually hold us back.
It’s an incredibly weird feeling to relax my muscles and slow my breathe during those hectic moments where it seems inappropriate. I feel a tingling up my spine that shoots out into my limbs with such a strong impulse I twitch a little. My first thought was that I should stop immediately. I need to shut these energies down. Now is not the time for this. But I was also curious what would happen if I continued. Maintaining this breath I looked around the room and saw I was living in a world of simplicity. My past and future are not with me. It is just the computer monitor and me. I can finish this report; the challenge is conquerable.
The first time I had this moment of clarity reminds me of the first yoga class I tried the balancing postures with my eyes closed. I stopped looking for a motionless spot in the room and turned my gaze inward. In my mind there was a peaceful center where all other energies dance around. I reached for that center and my breath became my still point.
My regular practice during the summer did not change my circumstance, but it did change me. I acquired the ability to find a still point even when the room is spinning. My breath is always available.