These are tumultuous times when so many of us are feeling unsettled by the world, not to mention our own personal upheavals and transformations. This is all happening in the first weeks of Autumn, which traditionally is a time when people experience more anxiety and feel ungrounded. It’s a perfect storm.
My mind and heart have been swirling of late, mostly around things over which I have no control. I’ve been resonating with the Albert Einstein’s sage advice: “Problems can’t be solved with the same mindset that created them.”
For me, my current mindset leads to dead ends, or far worse, to imagined outcomes that are horror movie worthy. If I allow my thinking mind to run the show, I stay stuck in a relatively narrow place with little space for new possibilities. The way I break out of this suffocating mindset is through my practices. Meditation every morning, a yoga practice during the day, and maybe a restorative yoga pose or even some breath work to bring me back into my body.
Why do these practices work? They land us in the present moment. When we are in the present, we are no longer limited by the stories of the past or the worries of the future. Yet, staying present is challenging because the mind will keep returning to what ever it is consumed with. The key is coming back, over and over, to the present. Even just a momentary rising above the muck of life (and I’m talking even just 1 minute of presence) can create a massive shift.
When we shift away from our typical mindset, we have access to our “higher mind”. This is a space of creativity, new ideas, fresh perspectives, and insights that help us get unstuck. But we can’t “think” our way to higher mind, rather it’s a byproduct of practicing present moment awareness.
I taught a class on Saturday and could feel the angst, stress, and overwhelm so many were feeling as they walked through the door. We spent an hour focused on breath, the feet, poses that ground, and opening our hearts to more compassion. So many people told me it was exactly the shift they needed. Everyone shifted simply by becoming more present.
I’ve always said that as yogis we have great influence and responsibility in this world. All of us are active stakeholders in our future, and by practicing returning to our higher mind and present moment awareness, we bring peace to the whole interconnected web of life.