on the mat is a state of mind
There is a technique in yoga called Drishti, in which we control and direct first the gaze, and then the attention. The world is often an overstimulating place, and as we focus more and more on the sights and sounds, the less we are able to focus inward on our intention. So with drishti, we direct our eyes to something that does not move, and our focus will also be unwavering.
I just got back from seeing Alice in Wonderland, which I knew I would adore as my love affair with Burton / Elfman / Depp projects is as fixed as my gaze in Warrior 2. Before the movie, the IMAX voice warned us that the 3-D experience can leave you feeling a little disoriented and if you need to, close your eyes for a few moments and the feeling will pass.
I didn’t think that I’d find a moment of zen at the movie theater, but there it was.
When the world feels as though it is spinning, close your eyes. Focus inward. Look at something that does not move, even if it’s just the backs of your own eyelids.
I’ve been feeling overwhelmed for a few days, by things going on around me, by the power of my yoga practice of late, and by the outpouring of support and positive feedback on my post of yesterday (definitely my most personal to date, so much appreciation to all of you on that front).
So to deal with my feeling overwhelmed (and while we’re on the subject of spinning), I had one too many beers with a friend last night, got woken up by my dogs at 6am, couldn’t come up with any breakfast this morning and went to class anyway. It is my practice and Carrington pointed out something that I’ve felt, but haven’t been able to put into words: the beautiful thing about blue lotus – and probably your home studio too – is that it rises up to meet you, wherever you happen to be, and gives you exactly what you need.
I had to trust that this was true as I walked in the door this morning, hungry and tired. I could have probably guessed that headstand + hangover = fail, but I did give it a try. A few months ago I definitely would have taken a day off, but I went, trusting that my practice would be whatever I needed and was capable of this morning. This is my commitment to yoga, to show up however I happen to be, to let it teach me, regardless of what I’m looking for.
‘When you feel off balance, look at something that isn’t moving.’
This idea of focus is so much deeper than just a still point for our gaze while deep in a twist. When the world starts moving around me instead of me moving through the world, I have my practice, my shelter that is always there for me, the still point for my spirit.
Now, ‘practice’ has taken on a new meaning for me since the start of this journey. My practice now includes running, reading, talking to a friend if need be. My practice includes anything that lets me clear a little space between my ears. Granted, moving your body is an easy way to clear your head, and definitely my go-to, but so can a movie or a book take you outside yourself for a little perspective. And that is what this is all about right? Your point of view and staying centered in a decidedly off kilter world.
It’s no coincidence that I went to see Alice in Wonderland as I’m thinking about all of this and I won’t ruin the movie for you, but one of my favorite lines (besides “use the curtains if you must, but someone clothe this massive girl”) was when Alice says to herself as she’s getting acquainted with Underland and everyone is telling her what she is supposed to do, “it’s my dream, I can make it what I want.”
It is our reality to create as we go.
Do your best to stay centered and focused on what’s important, and if things go topsy-turvey, close your eyes for a moment, the feeling will pass.