Yoga in Daily Life, Part 1 - Morning
I like to get up early, before anyone else, while the streets are still quiet and the streetlights are just about to go out. I creep down the steps so as not to wake the dogs (impossible) and not to wake my husband (wouldn’t happen anyway). I have a special spot on the hardwood floor of the living room, between the piano and the dining room table. When company comes, there is a Turkish rug in the center of the floor. But on most days, it’s rolled up and stashed behind the couch. Usually my favorite yoga mat, the expensive one that I never let anyone else use, is either rolled out on the floor, or rolled up and stored in the old entertainment center that was too nice to throw out once the new TVs would no longer fit in its square box. I like to leave the mat rolled out because it serves as a constant reminder to me that my yoga practice is a continuous, daily thing. It lives with me with every breath that I take. It also marks this spot as my special yoga spot.
I like to challenge myself to leave the house dark as I sneak down the steps and into the living room. I take out a bean bag yoga cushion or a block, depending on the way my muscles and bones feel that day, and set it in the middle of the mat. I take my yoga candle from the table by the window where I keep my singing bowls, my Tingsha cymbals, and my mala beads, and light it. I place it at the end of the mat, sit on my cushion, stare at the flame for a few seconds, and then close my eyes. I can still see the glow of the flame. I place it at the space between my eyebrows and imagine all of my focus going there. I start to slow my breath and deepen my inhale. Then the counting begins.
54 – in and out, 53, 52. Somewhere around 45 I notice that I’m thinking about work and the 16 phone calls I have to make. What number was I on? Back to 54 – in and out, 53, 52…41, wow I made it all the way to 41! Don’t lose count. 40. Focus on the breath. 39…
When I first started to meditate, I thought I had to have a completely blank mind. I thought I was a failure and that I’d never get it. As I progressed, and talked to more and more people who meditate, I discovered that it is always a struggle to keep the mind focused on just the breath, or counting down, or on the candle flame. It’s almost a game. The mind wanders, I bring it back. Each time, I’m less and less angry at myself for losing focus. It’s kind of like with my dogs. The angry dad just makes the dogs wonder why I’m angry. The persistent and compassionate dad teaches the dogs the behaviors I want them to learn.
Inhale 4, exhale 4. Inhale 3, exhale 3. Inhale 2, exhale 2. Inhale 1, exhale 1. My mind is at peace. The day is still young. The sky is starting to glow a faint blue of the sun’s promised rise. I get up to make tea and to wake the dogs.