It’s three in the morning and my mind is wandering rapidly.
My body is tired and wants to be still, but my eyes are wide open.
I try to force them to flutter shut. I travel down the list of mindfulness and relaxation exercises I would recommend to anyone in my position: I get out of bed and put my legs up the wall to calm the nervous system; I light candles and open a book that surprisingly enough is not about yoga philosophy (rare to come by nowadays).
I browse through every sleep-centric playlist on Spotify and I begin to meditate, counting and lengthening the depths of each breath as I go. And yet, my body remains tense. I find myself frantically pacing, moving internally from thing to thing and thought to thought, hoping to find a quick solution to this inability to relax, to sleep, to drift.
No matter what I am doing, my mind will not stop racing.
I feel myself holding on for dear life, almost as though I am making tight fists with my hands resting alongside my body. I am grasping for the tight grip around my thoughts, hoping to peel the layers away that seem to be binding the breath.
I’ve been running a mile a minute and playing what feels like a continuous game of catch up with my own heart. Moving so quickly, effortlessly entrenched in the schedule I continue to keep filling up. We do that to ourselves every now and again—we run ourselves ragged, trying to fit our lives into boxes of periodic activities and obligations; we force ourselves to stay connected to the world all day, everyday—phones permanently glued to our hands, eyes fixated on the computer screen, focused on absorbing everything around us—only to find that what we’re all seeking and craving is quite simple: connection with and to ourselves.
It seems ironic that in a world that craves our attention and forces us to stay “connected,” we often find ourselves disconnected to the vast pool of magic that lies within our own hearts. We sometimes forget that the attachment to our thoughts comes from the starving of our own souls. Quieting the mind does not mean dissolving it—it is about being the observer to our own existence, by way of breath, by way of emotion and by transforming the rapid ripples of our thoughts into the fluid movement of our breath.
Within the realms of fluidity lies the possibility to find ease in our everyday lives; from job to job, thought to thought, emotion to emotion—step by step.
I wake up four hours later to a light shining underneath my windowpane. I know I haven’t gotten enough sleep and I worry about how my day is going to go. Will I teach inspiring classes? Will I get everything on my to-do list crossed off? Will I even be able to think straight?
And then I pause.
I open my window and stare at the amazing waterfront view in front of me. The sun is shining and the waves of the bay are timid and serene, an undeniable beauty that I choose to embody as I set out for the day ahead.
Authentic internal connection—a ripple effect of practicing presence.
Suddenly, I recognize the ripple effects of choosing to slow down in a world that is constantly moving. More than ever before, it is clear to me that the simplicity of the soul will always trump the complexities of the mind.
Author: Lauren Cohen
Editor: Renee Picard
Image: Kristaps Bergfelds at Flickr