I just returned from a 7 day meditation retreat, nestled in the moss and green of a beautiful Pacific Northwest forest. This was the first in-person retreat that I have participated in in more than 2 years, and it felt like a welcome relief. At the same time, after such a long break, I felt like I had lost much of the momentum and ease that I had built up through consistent deep dives into practice.
At the start of the retreat, I felt a little like I was wrestling an alligator to get my mind to be just a little more still. It took a few days, napping every afternoon, taking time for deep rest, some time being with the mental swirl accumulated from daily life, but eventually, there was a place of ease I finally settled into.
Just past the halfway point, I had a realization that had me pause. It might sound simple, but it was a realization that what the mind does is think. The mind figures, plans, analyzes, imagines, fantasizes, dreams, remembers, and metabolizes experience. And there is nothing inherently wrong with this. It is our judgement about our thinking mind that has us wrestle with it so much. I started to notice that when I became aware of thinking, there was an automatic dislike. A subtle pushing away of the experience.
Once I noticed this, I was able to pause and say to myself, “it’s just thinking.” What opened up was the ability to be with what was present – a mind doing what a mind does.
What became possible with this simple realization was a deep relaxation into myself. An open acceptance of the experience of whatever was happening, including the experiences that were happening in my mind. My thoughts ceased to be a problem to be fixed. In that, there was a deeper acceptance of myself.
Many of us practice yoga asana for the health and wellbeing of our bodies, but what is also available in our yoga and mindfulness practice is a growing awareness of what is happening while it’s happening. And in that deepening awareness, we can practice finding a greater sense of acceptance of ourselves – even the parts we struggle with – like our busy mind, our turbulent emotions, the residue of past experiences.
I invite you to bring ALL of you to practice this month. Not just your body, but your mind, your heart, your experiences, your wholeness, even when you don’t feel entirely whole. Maybe we can grow our acceptance of ourselves together, each day an opportunity to accept ourselves and find a little more ease, relaxation, softness, and allowing.
Erin Joosse | she/her
Source Yoga | studio director
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Upcoming this month:
Join Skye for an online 6-week exploration of energetic anatomy – Exploring the Chakras: A Path to Liberation.
Are you a yoga newbie? Check out our Sunday afternoon workshop – Yoga Basics for Beginners. Only one spot left!