As a yoga teacher, people often tell me they would love to have a regular practice, or they would love to meditate, but there just isn’t time. They are busy at work, with their families, and so on – and I get that! Me too! But sometimes taking a few minutes out to calm and quiet our minds can be just what we need. It takes us out of the constant whirl of our minds, in which it can be hard to find clarity. If you take a bowl of water and swirl the surface, you have to wait for the water to settle back into stillness before you can see clearly into the water again. Our minds are often swirling like that bowl of water, agitated and dashing from one thought to another. I heard once that while we try to remember something we have forgotten, we will forget another 5 things. That’s a whirling, distracted mind for you! (And it’s why I like making lists!)
Some people rarely stop to experience a still, calm mind. They are either awake, dashing from one thought to another, one task to another, or asleep. Or watching tv to block out their thoughts. But we also need time to relax whilst still being fully alert. In a poised, alert, yet relaxed stillness, we start to see the clear water beneath those swirls, as the thoughts settle and calm down.
There are no doubt many things that can give us that space and stillness, a little mental clarity amongst the hubbub of our lives. For me, it’s yoga and meditation mainly, but also cooking, sewing or knitting. Even a nice bit of peaceful ironing from time to time!
One of my lovely students told me this week that her yoga seems to give her the opportunity to reach decisions. Often tricky ones, that can go round and round, being thought about continually without becoming any clearer. During yoga, that thinking process – the swirling waters – can be sidestepped, and answers can appear as if from nowhere. All the surrounding thoughts and their associated emotions start to settle, allowing us to see more clearly and find more creative solutions.
So being busy may be one of the worst reasons for not doing yoga or meditation. (If that’s not your thing, substitute your own activity that you love but don’t manage to do). We may become more productive and creative – and, by taking those few daily minutes, we may save ourselves far more time being stuck in an endless and unhelpful cycle of thinking.