The exceptionally brilliant mind of William Shakespeare said, “There is nothing either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” My usually cheery barista who was having a rough day shared this axiom as he managed to squeak out a smile. He made my day and I told him so. We go through our day sometimes never realizing the effect we have on others. The yoga sutras say to use every obstacle on our journey as a vehicle for transformative change in our lives. Our thinking, thoughts and emotions play an important role in how we relate and react to the world around us.
Of course, bad things happen and we are all so weary from the protracted, dynamic nature of the pandemic that they are now calling it pandemic fatigue. How can we be present with fear and contact our heart so we can shift our focus and be the best expression of ourselves? Sometimes compassion just requires us to be present with it. The power to calm our sometimes catastrophic thinking lies in our hearts and minds. Nothing makes sense these days so looking for meaning outside of ourselves doesn’t seem to work and can leave us feeling stranded and lonely. Connecting with our deep reservoir of innate goodness and grace can be found by quieting the mind through prayer and meditation. This then is radiated out to those around us. Ram Dass, the great spiritual teacher, echoed Love, Serve, Remember!
Meditation is defined as a systematic mental training designed to challenge habits of thinking, feeling and perceiving; challenging our habitual automatic way we think and navigate in this world. Meditation has been proven to grow and strengthen our brain, creating new neural networks, growing the gray matter in our brains. Research shows it is an effective intervention for stress, anxiety, depression and pain. What is absolutely amazing is that how we think, what we think and how we behave can literally change the structure of our brain! We used to think of the brain as static and unchanging. But Western science is catching up with ancient yogic wisdom of the incredible power to affect positive change in our lives by bringing loving energy to our brain and heart. It connects to our divine consciousness, our soul. All you need is love!
We can start simple, sitting in stillness and silence, allowing your breath to draw up into the lower belly. Keep a one-pointed focus on breath, then you can introduce an intention such as calm, peace, clarity, compassion. Our intentions, our thoughts, are powerful as we draw this vibration near to us. Sowing the seeds of harmony from within. This rests the mind from our self-destructive thoughts. Watch your thoughts rise and fall away without judgement. Slowly, we can cultivate the ability to return to the present as we rest and allow it to be our teacher. We can transmute our fear and anger to a lighter filled space of love. Self-compassion naturally arises when we can soften the tendrils around our heart. Start out with a three-minute meditation and with practice every day, add a minute. You can use the timer on your phone. It takes discipline and patience but with steadiness and ease you can effect change in your life. You’re worth it!
In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy encounters flying monkeys, an evil witch, a very human wizard and all sorts of challenges on her journey to find home. Dorothy finds her courage, her brain and her heart to overcome. We too have the ability and power in the midst of the chaos to come home to our hearts. As Glenda the good witch tells Dorothy “You had the power all along my dear.”
By Kathy Pastina
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