Mindfulness Lessons From a Recovery Asana Junkie (Part 1)

“Inner stillness is the key to outer strength”

13 years ago I would have (internally) rolled my eyes at that quote. I was a devout “Yogini,” or rather, “Asana Junkie,” hitting the mat 4-6 days a week and sometimes taking 2 classes in a row (3 hours!). To me, outer strength was outer strength and Yoga was just another workout for me. Westernized Yoga can be very competitive; I never competed with anyone else in the room, but I did compete with myself. My Drishti (focus) was 100% on me. Drishti is a technique of focusing one’s mind on a specific point so as to eventually see our own truth and sense our connection to everything and everyone around us. We are all one. We are all Divine – and THAT is actually what Yoga is supposed to be about.

FYI, the word Yoga, literally means Unity.

I can’t say that my Drishti back then was bringing me closer to anyone other than maybe my chiropractor. Like many yogis-in-training, I mistook the technique for the goal. I could stare down a point on my mat for my 3 hour classes no problem because I was there to sweat… and nothing could get between me and my workout.

Flash forward 13 years and I realize my Drishti HAS actually taught me a lot about connection. Through practicing inner stillness (AKA meditation) I am able to observe my opinions, and even prejudices that prevent me from seeing and feeling unified with others.

I am by nature an introvert and get my batteries recharged from solo time, but I also LOVE spending time with strong women. Women with their own ideas and a different perspective about our world (hence the creation of SPL retreats 😉
Sometimes our personalities mesh and sometimes they don’t. It is when they don’t (mesh) that it helps to get quiet. And what I mean by get quiet, is meditate.

My favorite description of Drishti is: To see past our outer differences to finally see our inner essence or truth.

Where does your mind go when you do not agree with someone’s opinions or actions? Do you think ugly things or believe that you are better than that person? What is your current truth?

Are you even aware of that little voice in your head?

As a psychology and sociology major I geek out on discovering why people are who they are, and do what they do. Through my own journey of self-discovery, my greatest lessons have been found not by analyzing others, but by becoming aware of my own emotions and reactions (or non-reactions) to people and situations.

So here are two simple steps towards Unity.

1. Awareness
Awareness of our own thoughts.

2. Acceptance.
Acceptance of our differences.

Both can be attained through getting quiet. Focusing on one point (Drishti) whether that be a candle light, or just your breath. The actual point of meditation is not clear your mind but to notice when you get distracted and bring yourself back to your Drishti. Start with 5 minutes and work up from there. You may find that you actually start to crave meditation time!

I now see that inner stillness IS actually the key to outer strength. Not necessarily physical strength, but more importantly STRENGTH OF CHARACTER. Humility, compassion, and patience can bring us together. Because we ARE actually all one.
Unity.