I recently taught a weekend workshop at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.
Despite the frigid temperatures this time of year, Kripalu is like a cozy nest—a warm, safe, inviting place where people come together to share yoga and self-exploration. It’s one of my most favorite places to visit.
That Sunday I woke up awfully early, 3:30 a.m. To my displeasure, my eyes were wide open and my thoughts were spinning about the week waiting for me once I leave the calm of Kripalu. My mind even jumped to the following weekend and the week after that: I am hosting a nationally renowned teacher for three nights at my home, and then I travel to Jamaica to teach a retreat. What do I have to accomplish between now and then? When? How?
The questions kept coming.
I tried to fall asleep, but my eyes would not close. After an hour of this exhausting thinking, I got out of bed and wrote out a to-do list. It felt better to place the thoughts on paper so I didn’t have to carry them in my mind.
I planned on going to the 6:30 yoga class, but I just couldn’t settle my thoughts about transitioning back to work, home, and the busy week coming. I decided yoga was not going to serve me best in this scattered state and instead went to the fitness center. I needed to exert myself, sweat, shake off this thinking frenzy.
Interestingly, in all my years of visiting Kripalu, I had never been to the fitness center before. I hopped on an elliptical. My mind was still fighting me, so I committed to just doing 20 minutes.
I had a beautiful view of the lake and mountains. As I worked my body on the elliptical, the colors of pre-sunrise began to paint the sky. There was a big tree in front of me with lots of big branches. I turned my head this way and that way to try to get a better view of the sunrise to no avail. The branches were in the way.
I wanted to see the sunrise. I needed to see it. After all, I woke up before dawn. I was ready for light, for the day to officially begin.
I stopped, got off the elliptical, and stood by the window. Just six feet to the left from the elliptical and there it was—the sunrise in clear view. I paused and watched this beautiful moment, this dawning a new day. I was in awe of the beauty before me.
Finally, my mind was quiet.
This whole experience is a great metaphor. The contents of our busy mind are like the branches of the tree that distorted my view of the brilliant, blossoming, clear, bright sun.
In reality, it’s not that difficult to just get off the machine and step six feet to the left and pause. It was the simplest thing for me to do, to just move beyond the obstructions and notice what was before me.
When we are feeling constricted, limited, muted, or dull, when we just can’t get the view we need, we can pause. We can call on our tools—a few breaths, a short nap, yoga practice, simple movements, walking, meditation. The simple tools that are right in our pocket can help us shift into our natural state.
I am so grateful for the experience I had that morning at Kripalu. It was a simple reminder of how easy it can be to calm my busy mind, to clear my view. We don’t have to keep searching. Let your search be over. Trust that your clear mind, bright body, and open heart are a breath away, a few steps away.
All it takes is a noticing, allowing, and letting go.
Author: Cara Bradley
Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Bethany Legg/Unsplash