By Marisa Crane
There are a lot of changes happening at the moment, for me personally, as well as globally across the world. And, maybe it’s just my literary brain, but they all seem to be encompassed by the overall arching change of the seasons, like some sort of pathetic fallacy. Change is good, it is exciting, and most of all its necessary. Nothing on Earth ever stays still, even if it is just moving on a cycle of repeated events; and even the seemingly steady and ancient rocks are in a constant state of flux. And so, no matter how hard we try, we cannot stay in the same place, we have to flow with the tide and respond to the changes happening around us all the time. But just as these things are true, it is also true that change can create anxiety and build a lot of resistance within us.
Yoga helps us deal with these feelings, and can help us tune into our own sense of inner flow, which is built into all of our DNA. Think about the phenomenon of homeostasis. This system works to maintain the optimal conditions for all of the other systems in the body to function properly, but rather than keeping everything the same and static, it works to balance everything out by keeping all levels within a certain limit- and so it is in a constant state of fluctuation. (And yoga actually helps to maintain homeostasis through its effects on the nervous system- but you could write a whole other series of blog posts on that!)
When I am experiencing a period of particularly rapid change, it is in my mind where I feel it most. An incessant buzz of indistinguishable, hazy thoughts that make it impossible to adapt to the changes happening around me. So an exercise I have been practising this week, and incorporated into my class, was that of breathing into a specific area of the body- in particular the brain. While lying in a traditional savasana, or any other comfortable position for meditation, I have been visualising that I can send the breath I’m taking in, not down to the chest, but up to the forehead where it blows away the busy thoughts like angry, heavy clouds, to leave a clear mind. The brain becomes a third lung that can inflate and expand infinitely and as many times as we need it to. There will always be enough space in our minds for us to grow, to learn, to adapt- for the brain has no limit. By creating this room in the mind with the breath, we give ourselves the time and space to create the change within ourselves that is needed to respond to the changes happening outside of ourselves.
So next time you feel overwhelmed, carve out for yourself the time and space to practise this breathing and visualisation exercise, and after, you will find an increased sense of inner space for all of your emotions and thoughts to balance themselves out. To close this post, I’d like to leave you with a quote from Haemin Sunim and his book The Things You Can See Only When You Slow Down:
“What makes music beautiful is
the distance between one note and another.
What makes speech eloquent is
the appropriate pause between words.
From time to time we should take a breath
and notice the silence between sounds.”