I find writing to be a very deep form of self study, I even find it meditative at times. I felt forced to quit writing some years ago during a very turbulent time in my life, but that particular situation has changed, and I'm slowly realizing that I'm actually free to do whatever I want now. Free to do what feels good for me. And writing down my deepest thoughts, innermost feelings and personal discoveries has always made me feel better. If only for a minute. It's therapeutic for a busy mind like mine. A way to release tension, create balance and recharge my batteries. Therefore, I'm picking up my pen again, or in this case; a keyboard - so that I can continue my journey, my life.
I'm a year into my yoga journey now, and even though I'm a long way away from knowing myself fully, I've made some important discoveries along the way - aside from the obvious benefits of my regular asana practice. I've discovered that things that come natural to other people; like resting, restoration and reflection - actually are pretty important tools. Tools we need to survive, even in these modern times. Maybe now more than ever. But, how exactly do you rest? How do you restore? How do you reflect? No one ever taught me how to do any of these things. So, I started looking for definitions and concrete examples on how to do all these things, because I want practical solutions to my rather impractical problems. Specifics. Maybe even a step by step guide. Life, for dummies. I felt really stupid Googling things like "self love", "how to rest" and "what is meditation", to be completely honest, but it was the only way I could think of to learn these things. So that's what I did. And for the record, Google said that self love is "regard for one's own well-being and happiness", whatever that means.
I never really cared about this thing called "well-being" before, not until I discovered yoga last year. I of course wanted to be happy, healthy and a generally good person, but I never really reflected on how I could reach these very vague, yet important, goals in life. I didn't take time to study my thoughts, actions, opinions or reactions, so quite naturally, I never found any kind of answer. Being happy, healthy and good is definitely not something money can buy, even though a lot of people will try and do just that. I'm guilty of trying that. I did that earlier today. But, through some rather intense soul/Google searching, I've ended up with this "self love triangle", so to speak. No purchases required. This triangle consists of the three things I consider most important for my personal growth and well-being.
These are: meditation, mindfulness and restorative yoga.
Meditation is a tricky thing. It's a deeply personal and, for the most part, a very private experience. The concept may seem mysterious and rather abstract, and I guess it kind of is. I have not yet mastered meditation. My mind tends to wander, and I just can't seem to concentrate, so I get very frustrated and angry with myself whenever I can't do it on my own. That's not exactly the intended effect.. So, for a long time, I avoided even practicing it, but I recently discovered that guided meditations might be more my thing! I'm currently exploring different versions on audio books, since there really is an app for everything these days. It's going well. I don't recommend trying to understand meditation intellectually, you should use your brain power for more practical things like for example taxes, because I don't think any amount of logic is going to help with this particular practice. But, that's just my personal opinion. Just breathe, and concentrate on the breath. Inhale, exhale, repeat. Practice, and all is coming.
Mindfulness is another vague, but very necessary tool for me. It's like going on a mini vacation. I have not taken any courses or read any books on the subjects, but I've done a little research online, and it's one of those things that just come very natural to me. I think it's because I'm sensitive and mindful by nature, attentive. I was like this, even as a child. Observant and easily distracted by seemingly insignificant things: a flower growing through concrete or a rusted nail shaped like a half moon in the forest. All the smells, all the textures. I was all over these babies. So now, being present in the moment and finding joy; in the wind, in just breathing, being still, for a minute or two - is second nature to me. It is mindfulness to me. And I genuinely enjoy every second of it. Not everyone around me understands it, but it is not for them to understand. It is for me to experience. I'm not afraid to climb into a ditch to get a beautiful broken branch to bring home with me, or spin around like a ballerina in a parking lot. I don't give a single fuck. It's kind of awesome.
Restorative yoga is an easier concept to understand. It is a series of super comfortable and supported positions that allow your body to rest completely - so that your mind can rest completely. You get to use all the pillows and blankets and bolsters and blocks to make yourself as comfortable as humanly possible, while soothing music is being played in the background. And you will get to rest. Heavy. On the ground, or even in your bed if you want. I personally love going to restorative yoga classes, because this means I will be guided through every minute and I can allow myself to fully rest more easily. It is, when I think about it, very much like guided meditation.
Side note: The first few classes of restorative yoga felt really strange and unnatural to me. How on earth is someone supposed to rest in a room full of strangers? Why is my neighbor breathing so damn loud? Hello, personal space - you're a little close, aren't you? Why are you wiggling about down there? Who the fuck left their phone on? Annoying distractions beyond my control. All rather insignificant in the grand scheme. All mental obstacles for me to get the fuck over. So, I kept going, because I could feel that it was good for me. Letting go of that intense need to control everything, and always being in the fight or flight mode that comes with my PTSD and anxiety disorders. I knew that this was, and very much is, something that my body desperately needs. Restorative yoga does exactly what it is supposed to - it helps me rest. It gives energy, instead of just stealing it.
So, that's it, my "self love triangle". The tools I use to recharge my body and my mind. I sometimes wish there was an easy way for all of us to recharge our batteries, something quick and efficient, like plugging in to an outlet or swiping a credit card. It would be very convenient, easy, mindless, modern. But, that would be robbing us of a very important human experience; of personal growth, learning and understanding - the world and ourselves. It will get easier with time, I'm sure of that, and maybe someday I will be able to plug in to my consciousness in a single heartbeat and just learn from within. Until then, I will continue my practice, the hard way. If there is one thing I've figured out, it is that the world will go on no matter what I do, so I might as well try and make it a good experience overall. It just took me like thirty years to get here. I need to be brave, so I'm going to try and do exactly that. How about you?
"You were put on this earth to achieve your greatest self,
to live out your purpose and to do it courageously"
- Dr Steve Maraboli