Thursday, 25 August 2016

Put on your oxygen mask first

"You're afraid your relationship will end if you don't go on a bike ride?" my dear friend, Carly reflected back to me recently.  I laughed.  It's true, my mind has been stressing over this ridiculousness for the past year and a half.

This moment was such a good example of how the mind, MY MIND, creates worry, tension in something that isn't real and it keeps me from being free to grow towards my own truth.  This distraction of how to balance my partner's perceived wants and my assumption about the foundation of our relationship has, at times, kept me from my sadhana, kept me from being present, and kept anxiety and tension coursing through my body - which has caused negative physical issues to occur.  This realization after talking with my friend, immediately resonated with lightness, release in tension in my body and mind, and clarity on what I need to do to continue growing on this spiritual path.

I naturally fall into the caretaker role.  Growing up I took care of my parent's relationship.  A desire to help others from a very early age.  Mediating between friends since I can remember.  Being a counselor by trade.  This is a wonderful part of myself as long as it comes with the balance and clarity of myself.  The dark side of this rears its head when I help to excess, put others before myself, think I  have no value without this role, overbook myself.  When I use it for what it's really meant to be my own self-transformation and caring for myself, the flow of life releases and things just happen.  When that darker side comes out, I'm stressed, - literally my body reacting like it's holding the weight of the world on it's shoulders - running ragged and feeling like there's never enough time.  Some lessons that have helped me:

1)  SLOW DOWN.  I can not stress this enough.  Ever notice that when you aren't able to do this, your body conspires to force you into slowing down through illness or injury?  We are rushing too much and for what?  To be enough in the future.  We are enough, period.  Our minds get so caught up in the "game" of illusion that we believe the material world will solve everything.  The sneaky thing is that it's that very race to accumulate that creates our misery of stress and anxiety and leading to feel more and more "not enough."  Slowing down allows space in our daily life to become aware and make conscious choices that can lead to more peace and contentment.

2) PRACTICE or SADHANA.  My guru, Prasad Rangnekar, states this over and over.  Those practices that help to create awareness and allow us to slow down are what I've found to help me take responsibility for my reactions in daily life.  Today, as I write this, I sit in Hibbings, MN, never a blip on my radar before.  I'm on my way home from a workshop in Canada with my guru.  Just as I stepped through security in International Falls, MN, the flight was cancelled and the adventure began.  Watching everyone around react with anger and stress, I knew I had a choice.  This situation has happened and I can be upset or accept this reality and see this as an opportunity to 'chill out' and practice.  By going with the flow, my body's stayed relaxed, I've been able to nurse the cold I acquired, and enjoy the peace of the day.  In the past, my mind would have shot into the future, worried and worried, dwelled and dwelled, and created an alter reality that doesn't exist.  My daily sadhana has helped ground me and meet challenges with more objectivity and seize the moment.  Why not just enjoy the challenges, which actually ends up dissipating the "challenge" since it's a label my mind created.  Just like smiling when in Utkatasana helps the body and mind relax into the pose.

3) BREATHE.  Breathing longer, deeper breaths helps to create space in the body and the mind.  It literally jolts the brain out of its flight or fight response so you can think more clearly and objectively.  Try it on the mat.  Hold the breath in any pose. Then take long breaths with a focus on lengthening the exhale.  Notice what happens.  It's been life changing for me.

You owe it to yourself to use kindness, compassion, and care taking towards yourself.  These powers are worthless otherwise.  Just like the safety talk on an airplane - you need to put your oxygen mask on yourself first before helping others.