Hello and Happy Monday,
Here we are in the last month of the last year in this decade!! What a perfect opportunity to look back on the past ten years and reflect on all our accomplishments and growth and not to forget those that have passed on without us. I'm putting together something very special for my New Years Day workshop this year as it's not just the first day of the year, but the first of a brand new decade. So much possibility!
This month the focus is on the 7th limb of yoga, which is Dhyana, or Meditation. Meditation has been a part of my life for a long time. I recall looking through my parent's record collection and found a guided meditation that I listened to often in my room, I don't remember how it ended, because I always fell asleep, but I remember those naps were always the most restful.
I didn't start meditating on my own then, instead I meditated many different ways. And, when I learned about the 8 limbs of yoga, it made sense that there were actions to be done before meditation. I've meditated by focusing on a single word or set of words (mantra), allowing my mind to follow all my thoughts, listening to a recording for a guided meditation and have counted my breaths. The counting is the one I go to a lot. Lately, meditation for me looks like walking. I have my earbuds in with nothing playing (mostly so I don't get interrupted) and I walk and breathe. I allow myself to follow my mind for a bit and then I start counting my steps. Every time I hit 100 I start over, if I miscount, I start over. After a few rounds, my mind gets quiet and then I enjoy the peace and calm that resides within me. I've been trying to do this as often as I can and the results always ripple into all my other activities.
The other night Joe and I were having a conversation about the difference between reacting and responding. There has been a big effort, at least in my world, to create space in order to have a response to others instead of a reaction. Meaning, when we can breathe and create space we can respond with compassion and perhaps empathy instead of a quick reaction which sometimes can be filled with our own hurt and judgment. Let me pause for a moment to write - THIS IS NOT EASY!
What my stream of consciousness came up with was that for every action there is a reaction so that we cannot just switch that off and replace it with for every action there is a response. We have to create the space within us for the response. There are many ways to interpret this, this is how I am defining action/reaction vs action/response. Let me set the scene: One day you are driving in your car, you are slightly annoyed because you are running late and you have also received an email from the person in your life that can never seem to do life without your help and this time is one of those times that you read the email and roll your eyes. Out of nowhere someone cuts you off and gives you the finger. The finger is the action from the other driver, your reaction might be to give that finger right back, or yell in your car calling that person a name. Your response might be to take a breath and reassess it all and not be impacted negatively by what happened. Here is the thing and why I set the stage - our reactions and responses are never in the moment, we may think they are, or feel like they are, but it's all the things that are happening or have happened that influence the way in which we choose to reply. The only way to create space between the two, is to consciously, voluntarily breathe. What I heard someone say recently and I love it, is something like, "I'm learning to use more words" and then he asked what he was looking for. I'm going to try and remember to say when I need space, "I'm learning to create space in my mind for a response".
So, if we are in a conversation and I pause and don't use those words, know that I'm not being rude, I'm just finding the best response that comes from a place of compassion and love. After all, that's the kind of person I want to be all the time, not just some of the time. In the meantime, I'll keep on meditating and hope more rememberings happen for me.