We all hear it every time we participate in a yoga class. “Connect your mind to your body.” I admit, I use it every time I gently glide my enthusiastic yogis into the upcoming hour of practice. During my last class, as I encouraged all my yogis to connect their minds to their bodies I suddenly thought, “what does that really mean and how can that make a profound impact in our lives?” I began thinking about the people in my life who are struggling with discontentment, feelings of being lost, or not knowing what they want, and then watching them continue to struggle further with such discord. We have all been in the whirlpool of not knowing what we want. But how does connecting your mind to your body possibly help resolve the million dollar question; WHAT DO I WANT?
Whether it is a career, relationship, marriage, or even just minor life events, figuring out what we want out of life can suddenly feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders. In my own journey I have discovered the path to what we want can be found in the things that make us feel good. Our bodies are like natural barometers that tell us what we want. We might not have the specifics or details but deep down inside we all know what we want. To access that pot of gold we need to go towards what makes us feel good. It is important not to confuse good feelings with happiness. Happiness comes from going towards the things that make us feel good.
Our minds constantly make negative or positive internal representations based on how we feel. When we go towards what we don’t want we become nervous or anxious and we experience feelings of sadness, overwhelm and irritability. Thoughts of racing across the border in a chopped top, light blue El Dorado to escape those feelings suddenly sounds like the best idea ever! The mind has immediately made negative internal representations of what we don’t want (the job we hold, the marriage we are in). Can you see what is happening here? The mind, which has made a negative internal representation based on what we don’t want, has manifested itself physically. We “sweat” things out, hearts race, headaches become the norm and stock in Johnson and Johnson becomes more appealing. So stop. Breathe. This is not the mind/body connection we seek from yoga. And this certainly isn’t the path to discovering what we want.
When we talk about the things that make us feel good, our bodies respond in a positive way by smiling, laughing, experiencing an uptick in energy and having a general feeling of contentment. The brain is just a coping mechanism. Its not going to tell you what you want. Those gray masses are just letting us know what feels good and thus telling us we are going in the right direction. As we continue to go towards what makes us feel good, only then can we begin to decide on what we want. THEN we are walking our truth.
Focus on what you want; or what makes you feel good. Stop focusing on what you don’t want. The brain is designed to get what you want; what you think about. If you are dreading heading into work on Monday or going back home to a broken and unhappy relationship then you will continue to get just that. Awareness is key and with awareness comes full control over how we react to all situations. Take another breath.
Yoga and the meditation it creates allows us to become more conscious of how we create our days and ultimately how we create our lives. You truly can choose your reactions to things but to do this you need to be aware of those reactions. We tend to react on autopilot. A driver cuts us off and we immediately thrust up our favorite finger, blow the horn, even go so far as to yell through steel and glass. Are we even aware we are reacting that way?
The breath is vital to yoga and meditation. Use it to become aware of yourself and your reactions. Breathe in and accept the things that are; the things that make you feel good. Exhale and release all the fear, anxiety, willingness to not let go of things that aren’t the way we want them to be. Focus on that very moment of inhaling and accepting and every moment of exhaling and releasing. Be present in that moment. You must be able to accept and release. If we cannot release, then we cling to what isn’t healthy. We stay when we should go. Its the letting go that is the ultimate release. Its the almighty sigh of relief.
Be aware of your actions, reactions and decisions. Go towards what makes you happy. Breathe in and accept that which is good and exhale to release that which you cannot control.
Life is about creating the best possible experience for ourselves without creating discord and awakening our inner wants. Life truly is good. Its just up to us to live our truths and go towards what makes us feel good.
This is the ultimate mind/body connection.
Ps The guy driving that El Dorado never made it across the border. He took a breath and went towards what made him feel good and today he lives his truth.