Early on during a recent practice I tee’d up the idea of approaching your practice with “the mind of a child.” My students were mostly baby boomers, and my intention was to encourage them to move away from focusing on what they couldn’t do, what they struggled with, what wasn’t available to them and instead to leave the self-judgement behind and marvel at what they could do, at how miraculous and wonderful their bodies are . . . today . . .in their current state. I wanted them to remember a time when everything was new, everything was amazing, and then to approach their practice from that place of discovery.
As we were packing up after savasana one of my students approached me. She shared that her first reaction to my suggestion was not so wonderful. She had experienced a lot of shame and suffering during her childhood, very much around all the things that her body at that time would not allow her to do. As you can imagine, my heart sank as she spoke.
But then she shared that she had quickly moved away from those thoughts to instead consider what her now 50-something (I’m guessing) body could do, what it allowed her to do, and (I’m also guessing) on what her mind would allow her to try. She smiled. I smiled. My heart melted.
Yoga philosophy suggests that the majority of our suffering is caused by the habits of the mind - regrets from the past (that cannot be changed) and fears about the future (that likely will never happen). Our past can cause us profound suffering, just as it had in the case of this woman. But yoga also provides an answer to this suffering. We move the body on the breath and notice how our physical practice results in a calm and spacious mind.
And with a calm and spacious mind we can move away from our mind-made suffering and recognize the truth: everything is just as it should be. That our bodies are magic. That we are surrounded by wonderful things and people. That life is beautiful, life is a gift, and we are all part of the Divine.