Here we are, moving into the second half of the year.
Firstly, a huge appreciation to each of you. For your diligence in showing up, day after day, through the cool of the dark Winter mornings and evenings, to share in the practice.
Often, this presence is the most challenging part. Whenever we do practice this commitment to meeting ourselves and each other, regardless, it trains into our body-mind a sense of determination. To not just meet what feels 'nice', but what is important, and what is right here.
This Wintery month I encourage you, on and off your mat, to take pause.
Truly, pause, and be still with what's here.
We are all too frequently taught to seek what is comfortable, averting from discomfort or challenge. We get caught in this loop of avoiding the things which will eventually need to be dealt with. It's a bit like leaving dishes in the sink, hoping that when you come back they will be a little easier to clean...
Buddhist teacher Tara Brach refers to this as 'the sacred pause'. A moment of limbo, where you do not need to speak, fix, achieve, resist or run away - but simply watch. Watch as a birder might observe a feathered creature, or an artist the changing sky.
If we can see each moment as a cross in the delicate web of our choices (and thus our lives), then this pause is that moment when we meet the fork in the road. A chance to lift our gaze up, to widen the understanding of the horizon, the weather, the soil underfoot.
Do we not travel better when we can be aware of our environment?
Will we not become more calm, compassionate, and courageous in witnessing and holding space for ourselves…and with practice, each other?
Your pause might be three deep full breaths, at a traffic light.
It might be an extra moment before you respond to a difficult conversation.
Perhaps you stop long enough to notice the colour of a colleague’s eyes, a friend’s hands.
It might be that extra exhale in Tadasana, Mountain Pose, feeling the stability of your feet, rooted firmly.
Even when you are absolutely still, there are trillions of interactions happening in each cell in your body. So efficiently that you do not even need to be aware for them to work, keeping your heart beating, your blood flowing, your organs pulsing with life. This is what you might call mindfulness - awareness of just what’s happening, right here.
A pause may not seem dramatic, but that does not diminish the value of this little comma between the flow of moments.
Life is often fullest in the dips of quiet, anyway. Pause, to gift yourself space to breath, land, and reconnect with the bigger picture of why you are going where you’re going.
These little seconds of space may end up directing the course of your life.
Happy practicing. We look forward to meeting you on the mat.