A friend recently passed along her copy of Elizabeth Gilbert’s best-seller, Eat, Pray, Love. I am quite likely the last person on the planet to be personally acquainted with this book, a charming and humorous personal spiritual journey, which, among other Very Important Things, has reminded me of my fitful efforts at yoga and meditation over the last several years.
My initial efforts at yoga were spawned by work-related stress. My purchase of a beginner’s Gaiam VHS tape, I convinced myself, would create the mind-body balance I so deeply desired and would propel me forward, spiritually and psychically, to peacefully transcend the petty professional pitfalls the plagued me (but apparently would not prevent me from creating an excuse to insert some disputably substantive alliteration right here).
I rousted myself at 5am several mornings a week, attempting to empty my mind as I worked through the 25 minutes of stretches. I did this for a few months, and fell out of the habit as the daily schedule changed.
The AM yoga tape was replaced with a Laughter Yoga class at my local park district. What a hoot it was. We all left with tears streaming to our chins and down our throats. I have taught my students and workshop participants the “Very good! Very good! Yay!” to replace applause following presentations. It is always a hit. And then the class was cancelled.
I have purchased various daily meditation collections, intended to focus my mind and set the tone for the day, and actually employed some carefully chosen mantras to assist with work-related situations. As I sat very still in my office one morning, the door closed, and my eyes gently shut, I repeated a phrase in preparation for a challenging meeting. A few seconds later the door blew open abruptly and a student employee stumbled, nearly landing in my lap, in his attempt to deliver a set of text books. He’d unlocked the door with the universal key, thinking the office was empty. I repeated to him that it was alright, he couldn’t have known I was in there, etc., but he backed away, crimson-faced, stammering a litany of apologies, his hands bracing the door jam, until he evaporated down the hallway.
Anyway, Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love has been a heart-warming and delightful journey to read, but it has also gotten me thinking about what a dabbler I’ve been when it comes to yoga and meditation. “Dabbler” is actually a generous term. I’ve really been more a “drizzler.” And you just can’t do that if you’re going to be serious about a practice to which you want to commit yourself. The thing is — I just don’t think I’m there yet. I must be more focused and determined if I’m gonna make this yoga and meditation thing happen.
While I’m getting there, though, I’ll offer a little verse that I hope conveys my very good intentions.
I Really, Really Tried. Cross My Heart.
This morning I tried to meditate, but I simply couldn’t concentrate.
This practice I’d appreciate had I enough time to dedicate
and a brain that would cooperate so all my thoughts would evacuate
the gray matter they now dominate.
This stress I shall eliminate and courageously self-motivate.
I’ll begin again – it’s not too late
to attain a peaceful, Zen-ish state.
Here’s another perspective. Genius musician Paul Simon has his own take on un-clouding the mind in his song, “Maybe I Think Too Much,” from his One Trick Pony Album:
They say that the left side of the brain controls the right
They say that the right side has to work hard all night
Maybe I think too much for my own good
Some people say so
Other people say no
The fact is
You don’t think as much as you could.
Does thinking cloud your mind? Tell true. And when it does, what do you do? (Hey there’s another rhyme!)