How many times in life do you feel stuck or resigned to “be a certain way”? How many times do you say “this is me and I can’t change”? What holds you back in your relationships or in your daily life? Are you often irritated by others or do you feel a quiet peace even when things are erupting around you? What if the teachings of yoga and Buddhism offered such a simple way to change, would you try it?
After several years of reading texts of yoga, Sufism and Buddhism I have found one major thread that unites all of these traditions. It is the power of thought and the mind. All you have to do to change your life is change your mind. In Buddhism there are various states of mind that you can cultivate. In yoga, there are fluctuations of the mind that yoga helps you to make still. In Sufism, the release of the mind to the Beloved (or God) helps quiet all other disturbances of the mind. Put simply– change your thoughts, change your life.
Try this simple experiment I learned from Michelle (from the Ganden Center): You are driving and someone is cutting you off, speeding, talking on the phone, or anything else you find particularly annoying. Instead of silently cursing them or calling them one name or another, what if you could say thank you to that person. Thank them for helping teach you patience. I found this was the easiest way to begin.
Another simple experiment that you can try is this: When you start to feel irritated, “act as if” you are not. Take a deep breath and don’t react. Know that you don’t have to operate in the way you always have. Notice the sensations in the body and let them go with each out breath. Soon, “acting as if” is no longer an act. Your body and mind start to enjoy this new state of mindfulness.
In life, each moment gives you an opportunity to continue with habits that either serve us or harm us. It is up to us (with self-reflection) to chose which habits to continue with and which habits to change. Who knows, it may be worth a try? If you have tried any of these in the past, or try them today, I’d love to know how it has helped you (or not). Remember this– “On this path effort never goes to waste, and there is no failure…” The Bhagavad Gita translated by Eknath Easwaran
from Liz Delaney (teacher, co-owner of North Main Yoga)