Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Are You Awake?

One of my favorite teachers often employs a powerful approach while leading students through practice. While in the middle of a pose or even just sitting in silent meditation, he poses the question - sometimes in a whisper - "are you awake?"  This is a moving reminder for his students to remain mindful and not to slip into sleepy habits and to recognize that life is happening NOW. It prompts us to be awake and alive in the moment.  

Admittedly, I've been sleepy for the past week or so. Sleepy as in tired, yes, but more than that, sleepy on a deep, sub-conscious level.  Being a devoted student of yoga, I've experienced this before and realize that it's part of the process of unfolding and awakening. It's part of the ebb and flow of the journey.  It's the quiet "yin" to the more active "yang".  It's my body's way of saying "rest", my mind's way of saying "wake up", and my heart's way of saying "listen to me". The interesting thing about this deep sleepiness is that it makes it challenging to muster up the energy to get on my yoga mat, but it's precisely at these times when practice is most important.  When the sleepiness arrives I honor it physically by practicing primarily Yin Yoga.  Yin offers a wonderful opportunity to stop, listen and feel. I honor the mental sleepiness by getting on the meditation cushion and observing the root of the lethargy. I spend some time alone to listen to the voice of my heart.

The practice of yoga provides us with a ladder which we can use to climb up and beyond our everyday boundaries and the ruts we find ourselves in, towards greater understanding and awakening. Setting an intention to live mindfully is the first rung on that ladder.

Take a moment to set this intention: "My intention today is to be awake and aware of how I move, speak, act, and listen."

Until next time...

The Laughing Heart 
by Charles Bukowski

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is a light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.