I like to talk about yoga and I like to talk about surfing because that is kind of all that I ever do. The road of life is long and it’s a hard road but it’s our road. It is a road we must all go down and we must do this on our own; nobody else can do it for us. On this road potholes of doubt, tailgating guilt, the inevitable blind curve of fears besiege us with intersections, cross streets and turns, and we often lose our way. Our vehicle is prone to a multiplicity of painful and debilitating breakdowns; while none of this lends itself to the development of a peaceful and happy state of mind, we need one to stay on course, so where do we find the balance to follow directions and keep our wheels on the road? Yoga teaches us about living a life in harmony with nature, the most natural thing we do, just a simple act of breathing really becomes a foundation for our yoga practice. Every time we come to our mats, we begin to breathe the right way. For many of us, whenever we come to class, we learn the correct way to breathe and we keep practicing this over and over until it becomes second nature again. We were born breathing in the proper manner but along this road of life, we forget and rapid shallow irregular mouth breathing takes the place of slow rhythmic deep breathing through our nose. When we breathe correctly and concentrate on our breathing, we become aware of an increasing state of mindfulness; from this mindfulness, we begin to understand the value of living in the present so mindful awareness and staying present are really all about paying attention. The world we live in today has many distractions. I am sure that you know that losing focus is easy; concentration and staying focused is hard: a large part of attention is being able to be in the moment, right here, right now. You know, our minds drift back to the past so easily and nostalgia makes us sad or we worry about the future and we are not able to stay in the present. Moment is really all there is: I mean the past and the future only exist in this moment. if we live in recollection and anticipation we have a much less clear picture of the present so staying present is an excellent intention to set for ourselves before each yoga session or before each day.
Yoga mindfulness really builds a solid foundation for our life: His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was once asked what surprised him most about humanity and he answered: “man, because he sacrifices his health in order to make money and then he sacrifices his money to recuperate his health and he is so anxious about the future that he is not able to enjoy the present. The result being he does not live in the present or the future and he lives as if he is never going to die and then dies having never really lived”. So, the message there is that life is for living: life is a series of moments all strung together, moment to moment. While it may not be possible to live every single moment to its fullest potential, if we keep that intention in mind we will get more out of life than if we are too consumed, too anxious, too distracted, too oblivious, or simply not paying attention.