I love the idea of Meditations from the Mat – and how everything, every small little lesson or adjustment that we find on our yoga mats can have the power to transform not only our entire practice, but also our lives. I think, though, that too often we rely on yoga alone as our source of wisdom and inspiration, and while there is an endless fount of wisdom to be found by pursuing the path of yoga, really, the majority of this wisdom is something that is already living inside each of us, and yoga usually just has a more clear and concise way of bringing it out. The importance in realizing this is that, instead of learning and growing leaps and bounds for one hour ever day, or every other day, you can bring this meditative state, this eagerness for and openness to learning with you wherever you go, whenever you want. It’s always there, and as soon as you’re ready to get present in your body and tune into your clear, focused, and brilliant mind, you will be ready and able to be your own answer. A lot of the biggest breakthroughs I’ve had in my life have come on a particularly long run, or really whenever I step foot onto my paddleboard – anytime I allow myself the time and space to get clear, and get grounded in my physical body, my mind often follows.
It’s like that – any time you take away from the madness of daily life and really get off of your autopilot, out of your head, and into your body… that’s when the serious change starts to set in. We need something to bring us back into the now, so that the growth we’re slowly doing can start to solidify within us. This past weekend, I found the same beautiful experience on a surfboard. The second I finally became truly present out there in the waves, all of the abstract challenges I had been working through over the past few weeks were finally presented in a way that I could understand, approach, and overcome. Instead of a vague tangle of things I knew I needed to fix, I realized quickly that the challenges I had been facing in my personal life were also showing up so clearly in my time on my board. I was frustrated and annoyed, because I have been surfing for years and years, and yet, on this morning, still could not manage to really catch that perfect wave. I was riding some in, and getting a few good ones, but when it came to really getting on top of a wave, throwing myself into it, and riding it all the way… I was coming up way short. I was getting a lot of good, and no great. And I was very, very ready to blame it on a bad surf day, waves that weren’t ideal, anything but myself. However, when I took a moment to pause my blame game and really figure out the root of what was going on, it quickly became clear – I was getting into the tops of these waves, and instead of paddling hard to truly “catch” the wave, I would give the water a few quick swipes with my hand, and then immediately try to stand up, before I was even in the wave. For those of you who know nothing about surfing, bear with me for just a moment. I was trying to get to the next step of the process, without fully giving my effort to the step I was currently in. And, as a result, I almost always lost the wave, and ended up in a half-standing board limbo, and subsequently very wet and salty. Where all of the concept and information had been failing to process in my brain, this physical reality landed, and landed hard – all I had to do was really put myself fully into the process of catching the wave, before moving on to what I knew came afterwards. I needed to turn off my overanalyzing brain for just a second, and instead, be in the moment, and trust the process, focusing entirely on what is right here and right now. There’s so much truth and beauty in that realization – because we have a clear goal, a purpose, an idea of what our future should and will look like, we spend so much time and energy focusing on that future, instead of living in the present that will bring us to that future. We’re trying to stand up on boards that aren’t even in a wave, and that leaves us with no force or momentum, and if we keep it up, we’ll keep falling flat on our face. Instead, let’s focus on getting present, getting in our bodies, and learning to paddle before we try to stand.