“We normally attempt to solve our inner disturbances by protecting ourselves. Real transformation begins when you embrace your problems as agents for growth… Do not doubt your ability to remove the root cause of the disturbance inside of you. It really can go away.” ~ The Untethered Soul
As I made the drive to my sunrise yoga session this morning, I was lost in thought and before I knew it, I was at the studio and had missed a glorious sunrise.
This motivated me to stay focused in my practice. I came to a familiar pose where I always feel an intense sensation in my right hip and quickly label it as pain. Sometimes I try to breathe through it but usually give in and move around to relieve the sensation.
This morning though, I gave myself permission to breathe through the entire sensation. I allowed the pain to rise up to the surface. I faced it as it built and shifted, peaked, and then finally retreated. I had allowed myself to be present and still with it for the first time.
Some say that our soul is manifested through our physical sensations. This right hip pain has existed for years and I have avoided it, only recently giving it attention.
Upon witnessing this pain grow and then retreat while keeping still, I felt powerful. I saw my ability to ride it out. I practice presence through meditation and yoga so I won’t miss these glimpses of my own strength or the beauty of the sunrise.
In silence, there is space to see our thoughts and actions more intimately. If you can allow yourself this time, you’ll be rewarded. Try these tips below and see if you can put them to use in your own practice:
1. Give yourself a break from the noise. All day long we are bombarded with phones ringing, email notifications, background music, conversations and cars buzzing outside. Barriers to our inner calm are everywhere and we associate feelings with every sound we experience. This can be draining. Practicing in silence for one hour or more will help us break free from the noise in our lives.
2. In this silence we create the space to watch our impulses. The more we notice how we react the more control we have over our actions. We become less likely to regret our actions, such as saying something we wish we hadn’t.
3. Being in silence takes patience. In this fast paced world, we get annoyed if our internet service takes longer than a millisecond to load. We could all use a little more patience.
4. Pump yourself up. The theme song to Rocky may not be there when you need it, so learn to rely on your own energy.
5. Be present. Certain songs can remind us of past experiences. This takes us away from experiencing the present moment fully. In order to let go of old things, we need to experience our feelings just as they are.
6. Become more efficient. We will do everything possible to avoid feeling uncomfortable and reroute our entire day to avoid it. We all know that shortcut through town when there is a traffic build-up and many of us would rather weave all over to just keep moving rather than sit still and wait for the flow to return. The most direct route to where we are going is straight through. Practice sitting through your sensations.
7. Learn to breathe more deeply. Notice the tension being released while breathing calmness into your life. Learning to take a few deep breaths instead of having to reach for a glass of wine or run to a yoga class is empowering and cost-effective.
8. Choose the pose that is right for you. Usually, the only time we modify a position is when we are injured. That is because the sensation of pain creates enough discomfort for us to “hear it” above everything else. When you are quiet, you can tune into your body before it becomes injured. Live Love Teach yoga teacher Stacy Dawkins states: “You don’t always have to do the yoga pose you can do.” There is no ideal pose, only what is needed in the moment.
9. Intention creates tension. Often teachers tell us to set an intention for our practice, such as creating energy, practicing ease, healing or releasing stress. I am suggesting coming into your session with no intentions. You can then simply watch and just let what is be.
10. Make friends with the voices in your head. You can use silence like a flashlight. In silence we can listen to how we talk to ourselves and decide for ourselves what works for or against us. When we become aware of that, we can shift to choosing more of what works for us.
11. Bonus reason: It will change your life. After practicing yoga for five years it is the one change in my practice that instantly brought peace, happiness and gratitude to all things in my life.
Author: Jennifer Guthrie
Apprentice Editor: Jenny Wise; Editor: Travis May
Photo: Flickr/Alice Popkorn