I had a really special weekend :) After leading my usual Saturday morning classes (which I love), and having my usual post-yoga brunch date with my big sis (also, love), I went back to the yoga studio to lead a workshop on Mindfulness (LOVE!). In it we covered a lot of the stuff we've been talking about here, in the blog. In just two hours, me and this small group of people got through a ton of material and everyone - including myself - left feeling more prepared and hopeful. It always feels so good to talk about these things, because we realize that we're not the only one going through it, and furthermore we remember that we already have all the tools we need.
Sometimes I forget how much I've learned about mindfulness & anxiety over the years, until I start talking, and next thing you know 2 hours have passed and there's 20 people patiently waiting in the lobby for the next yoga class to begin. Whoops! I left the workshop feeling incredibly FULL, and grateful, and inspired, and motivated to find new ways to share all the things I know about mindfulness & anxiety. Taking suggestions for formats right now (more blogging, video series, a deck of cards?!) - please feel free to email me your ideas!!
After the workshop I ran home, got cleaned up, ate some food, and hopped on the train for a lonnnnnggg and somewhat arduous ride up to Queens; Flushing Meadows, to be exact. I didn't really mind it though, because the sky was doing pretty things (see above) and I was feeling good. I got to the concert venue just as the sun was setting and luckily located my friend before it got too dark. There I was, standing next to my close friend of TWENTY years as Paul Simon started his final concert. The sky was clear, the temperature literally perfect. Alan and I started our friendship when I was 14, and spent those first few summers sitting in the lawn at a local concert venue, so this felt like a perfect way to mark our 20 years of friendship. Almost every song Paul Simon played I thought, "this is my fave!" and then the next one would come on and I'd think, "wait, THIS is my fave!" I realized just how much I'd listened to his entire collection over the last several decades of my life. The songs brought me back to different times, different feelings, different relationships.
But more than anything, I was extremely present. Having just come off the high of the mindfulness workshop, where I explained how sometimes I can tune into my senses SO MUCH, and feel gratitude SO MUCH, that I can actually bring myself to tears with how beautiful life is and how many things there are to be grateful for - well wouldn't you know it, I definitely brought myself to tears. I felt so lucky to not only be there in that moment, but to have the day that I had, to have the job that I have, to be able to connect and furthermore to be able to take time off and enjoy one of my favorite artists on his [supposed] final show - an expense I would have had to forego not that long ago...
After an equally long trek home, and some time to sit with this incredible experience, I realized that all the best moments of my life - my favorite memories - were ones where I was extremely present; where I wasn't worried about what might happen next or what happened before, but where I was able to sink in, let loose, and BE MYSELF without fear or reservation. And as I went to teach my classes that very next day, I felt an even larger passion for sharing mindfulness and the practice of yoga - remembering we don't practice to get better at yoga or even to get better at sitting still, but we practice for life. We practice so we can enjoy the crap out of these moments of our lives - the big, AND the small; the everyday, and the monumental. We practice so we don't let these moments pass us by any quicker than they need to. So we can look around, take it all in, and perhaps in another 20 years when Alan and I put on a Paul Simon record, we'll be warped back to that night. And I'll feel the cool air, and the grass beneath my feet, and I'll remember the comfort in my body, and the way I danced without any self consciousness or reservation.
So, sure, yes, mindfulness is a tool for anxiety. But also, mindfulness is just a tool for life. It's not about sitting with legs crossed, or about tying yourself into a knot standing on your head; we sharpen these tools on the mat, so they are there at the ready when life happens off the mat. To handle the good, the bad, and the mundane in between; it's all worth being there for, because it's all your life, and it's really all we got.
Something we did in the workshop was write down something you do everyday - be it getting up and making coffee, walking to the train, sitting in traffic, whatever... and consider how you might make this a mindfulness activity. How can you be more present? How can you find beauty and gratitude in this moment? In this way, something as simple as brushing your teeth can become a meditation.