I began my yoga practice years ago when I started to fall in love with meditation. I would sit with my legs crossed in silence as I focused all my attention on my breath - trying to slow down the momentum of my mind, as it had been building for the last 22 years of my life. I didn't know exactly how to do it; I tried to research various techniques, but I found it to be a very mysterious topic. Many people say they meditate and share all the benefits of a practice - yet very few actually explain how to do it.
So I then started seeking teachers to help guide me on this new hobby of mine. I found Thich Naht Hahn and Eckhart Tolle. They helped tremendously, and I started to experience deeper and deeper states of bliss. I was very satisfied with my meditation practice; however, once I ended each practice, I noticed that my peace would slowly fade as I got sucked back into the overwhelming world of ego. Sometimes I would lose it sitting in traffic, often I lost it at work, or while dealing with certain "difficult" people.
Eventually, I would get back home and find my peace again by sitting in silent meditation - but I wanted more! I wanted to be able to live every second in these higher states of experience. Then I was introduced to mindful walking. Mindful walking is basically moving very, very slowly so you can experience all the muscles and sensations of each step, rather than walking to get from point a to point b. This was the bridge that helped me understand how I could take my meditation practice to the next level. If I could meditate while I walked, then I could reset much more easily than when I had to find a quiet place to sit.
Yet the walking meditation was not very challenging as far as the physical body is concerned, so when I found myself in a stressful situation, it was still difficult to overcome the drama. Then I tried yoga, which allowed me to keep a mindfulness state while overcoming higher levels of stress on the body. I felt every muscle (many I didn't even know I had) as I transitioned through the countless poses. Yoga teaches me how to move through various strenuous positions while keeping a centered state. This increases my resilience, which then has a tremendous effect on helping me maintain stillness when I find myself in more stressful situations, such as work.
To me, yoga is more than just a physical workout designed to create strength and flexibility. If it is practiced with a mindful perspective, it can also become a moving meditation. Once you master the art of finding stillness, even in the midst of intense physical movements, then you become an unstoppable force of peace and bliss. Every second holds the opportunity to find and cultivate peace, regardless of the level of stress or challenge.
It reminds me of a powerful quote I heard somewhere: "It is one thing to be a monk in a monastery, it is another to be a monk in the midst of our chaotic world."
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