Warning: f-bombs ahead
Waking up this morning, I noticed my mind was a little…off.
My thoughts were floating to negativity as my brow furrowed deeper and deeper.
Here we go again…repeating the same mundane tasks you do every weekday.
What the hell are you doing with your life?
Get the fuck out of this house and do something with yourself!
The morning is a tough time for me. I generally feel the most sensitive in the a.m. I avoid SPCA commercials like the plague, and serious conversations with my boyfriend or roommates are pushed away until I can restore balance.
I can usually catch myself before I start the vicious cycle of thinking that spirals my day into the gutter, but I was too late this morning.
As I laid in bed, I noticed how this negativity built a weight in my chest that expanded to my whole body as I stood.
My morning routine was clouded with this general unrest of where I was in my life and a scowl on my face concerning my unsatisfactory predicament—not even my adorable cats or beautiful woods that surround my house could push the cloud away.
I put on the Charlie Byrd album, “Sketches of Brazil” and began chopping away vegetables for my slow cooker. At first, my movements were frantic and even chaotic:
Chop this, oh, wait, this goes in first. Ok…how much of this goes in? Now a splash of this, Woops! Too much. Ok….
Then suddenly, something clicked.
I was peeling the casing off a garlic clove, listening to Charlie Byrd, and took a deep inhale that filled my entire body. As I exhaled, I felt my shoulders move back and away from my ears, parts of my spine naturally cracked, and a soft smile found its way onto my face. My movements slowed and I became aware of every action I took.
I suddenly found myself enjoying the act of simply peeling a garlic clove.
Yoga philosophy teaches us that body, mind, and spirit are not separate. What happens in the mind also happens to the body. So, when we think negative thoughts, those thoughts can overtake our body and make us ill with anxiety, depression, distress, hyper stress and many other potential ailments.
When we think negative thoughts about ourselves or others we are breaking Ahimsa (nonviolence), one of the Yamas as described in Patanjali’s Eight-Limbed Path of Yoga. Vital energy is being wasted on this type of thinking and we reinforce neural pathways in the brain that make it more difficult to break this pattern of thought the more we succumb to it.
Instead, ask yourself, “Is this thought kind? Is it true? Is it necessary?” If you answer no to any of these, breathe it away with pranayama (another limb in Patanjali’s Eight-Limbed Path).
I wasn’t even aware that I was breaking ahimsa until I took that deep breath that resounded over my entire body. It was suddenly so apparent that I was causing much unneeded stress on my body and mind. Once I was able to deeply breathe (breathing into the diaphragm, expanding the abdomen, rib cage, chest, shoulders and clavicle with each inhale) and release that tension, calmness was suddenly restored and my outlook on my life and the world around me got a lot brighter.
I broke the vicious cycle of negative thinking that captured me this morning.
Peeling that clove gave me such pleasure that the entire morning prior to that action could not. Such a simple act, illuminated into a type of moving meditation, changed my day. For me, it was a garlic clove that gave me this sense of well-being; it could really be anything. Driving to work, filling a bottle of water, wiping down a countertop…anything!
As long as it is done mindfully, with purpose, and with the breath.
I invite you to do the same the next time you feel a little…off.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photos: Pamlovespie at flickr / courtesy of the author