It came to me while waiting in line.
Our minds are like airports. We’re constantly bouncing back and forth – looking forward with anticipation of the destination, and glancing back at where we’ve just been. Rushing through are emotions: expectations for the future and judgements of the past. All the while looking for signs that we’re going the right way.
How can we catch a break? Just like the switch to airplane mode on a phone, we can use yoga to tune in to a more meaningful experience without getting caught up in the distractions.
Yoga tells us that finding our center – our stability in the daily grind – is something we can practice, and ultimately master. The path to cultivating stability is through balance, which we find by being present in the here. and. now.
We can shift our mental patterns by working with our bodies and our breath. Standing in line, sitting in traffic — floating between where we’ve been and where we want to go gives us the opportunity to pause.
And find our center.
Use the breath to cultivate stability anywhere, anytime. If you need to slow down and calm the pulsating energy often present in our sometimes frenetic lives, consciously exhale for a longer count than the inhale. For example, inhale for 4 counts and exhale for 6. This extended exhalation signals the nervous system to chill. the. heck. out.
If you need to pump up from a state of fixed or dull energy, use a longer inhale to create dynamic space in the body. Breathe in for a count of 6 and out for a count of 4. The increase in oxygen will nourish the body and refresh the mind.
As you breathe, notice if there are any patterns of thought that emerge. Are you looking to past memories or future fantasies? Regardless of what comes up, keep your attention on the breath. You can always come back here.
Create your own frequent flyer lounge in the airport of your mind and spend a little time there. Focus on the breath so that once you do arrive at your destination, you’re fully present.