By: Shigei Gebremedhin
“Wait, is the event on Tuesday or Wednesday…I have to check my calendar. And I can’t forget to pay that bill. What was that thing I had to do for work? It looks like it’s going to rain, and I forgot my umbrella. I have to text my friend back about dinner. I’m hungry…”
My mind races non-stop, and I know I’m not alone.
When it comes to Bikram yoga, the most challenging part is not the series of 26 postures in a roasting 105 degrees studio in 40% humidity. No, what’s more challenging is to keep all of my attention-seeking thoughts still so I can be completely present in that heated studio. While practicing Bikram, you are training the mind just as much as the body.
The solution is meditation, and this can’t be reached without discipline. While in a yoga
studio, my goal is to remove myself from the outside world and carve 90-minutes of time to focus on my teacher’s simple instructions and maintain my postures. Bikram serves as my form of meditation. For me, the perfect class would be when I am mentally not in New York, nor distracted with the itch behind my right knee, but rather, I am completely in the zone and focused on perfecting my postures. In those moments, I am present.
Although my source of meditation is yoga, you may have another way of reaching calm within yourself. You may find stillness while sitting on your couch with all electronic devices turned off and gazing out the window. Reading may also give you that escape, or blasting music while cleaning. However you reach that sanctuary, you will ultimately come out of it feeling refreshed and with a clearer mind.
We need to give our mind and body a chance to heal. Sometimes, the key to solving a problem or healing a wound is to stop thinking about it, stop picking at it, and rather, grant your mind the opportunity to do some healing.
One way to increase awareness and reduce the mind chatter today is by focusing on your breathing. This is a critical component of Bikram, but can be done anywhere and any place. Taking deep breaths will bring in new oxygen to your body, and release unwanted toxins.
Finding inner peace isn’t easy; it takes so much out of me not to wipe my face when I’m sweating profusely out of pores I never knew existed. Not to mention the intruding thoughts that like to wreak havoc in my impressionable mind, but I continue to strive for that state of tranquility in every class.
Putting aside some time to practice mindfulness will help you pay attention to how you are, and help you reduce any stress or restlessness that you may feel. You will gain mental clarity through meditation. You will feel rejuvenated and confident to tackle issues head on. And, if you haven’t discovered your source of meditation, keep looking and find your spiritual practice. You know where I’ll be. Namaste.