Where to start… at the beginning is always a good place.
In my experience, most people live their life unaware of the present moment. They are either reminiscing about their past, “the good old days”, or looking forward to the future so much they are willing the present time away. I have to say I have been guilty of both the above states of mind, in fact in the lead up to my 300-hour yoga teacher training it was hard to steer my mind away from thoughts of yours truly practicing asanas on a sun drenched black sand beach! My family, friends and colleagues would make polite attempts to avoid engaging in conversation with me knowing the inevitable direction it would take – me on the beach, me practicing asanas, me adding endless pictures to my Instagram account, did I mention myself on a beach in paradise??? The reality was quite different (black sand gets extremely hot when sun drenched!!!).
One of the most profound and transformational things I have learnt during this training is the process of letting go of your “I”. The ego is a persistent little bugger at times, pervading your thoughts any time you are unaware and let’s be honest, for most of us that is most of the time. It’s tough to try and separate yourself from your Ahamkara (ego), like most worthwhile things it takes perseverance and aggressive dedication. A practical and mind blowing tool, at least for me, is adopting a mind-set of gratitude.
What does this involve? Basically, any time you find yourself slipping into self-obsessed or negative thoughts you redirect the minds focus to find something to be grateful for in any given situation.
For example, you have been dreaming of practicing advanced, Instagram worthy yoga poses on a beautiful black sand beach only to find:
a) You can’t perform said poses.
b) Your device isn’t working.
c) The sand is so hot the soles of your feet are burning off.
Instead of falling into a pit of self-misery over the aforementioned perceived problems you find a reason in each situation to be grateful. It goes a little something like this:
a) Be grateful for the poses you can perform and the opportunity to improve.
b) Be grateful for the opportunity to disconnect from a world that can be very judgemental and toxic, and the opportunity to plugin to your awareness. Really look around you and SEE things, listen and HEAR things, touch and FEEL things.
c) Whilst practicing yoga on the beach seems romantic, sand is abrasive and tends to creep into unwanted places! Be grateful that you have a view of a beautiful black sand beach whilst practicing your asana.
In time this mindset of gratitude will become your default setting and you will start living in a state of increased awareness and positivity.
It all stems back to our personal perception of our own version of reality. Person A’s perception of a black beach may be beautiful and exotic, person B’s perception may be dirty and hot. Let’s think about this for a moment, which person is happier in this scenario? Herein lies the answer. You have total ownership of your perception, you can choose to view the black beach as exotic and beautiful, it really is that simple. A very wise teacher of mine once said: “A pen for you is a tool for writing, for a dog it is a chew toy, who is right?”.
The answer is neither of us and both of us so why not cultivate a perception pattern of gratitude, joy and happiness. Just wrap your head around the power you hold over your mind (pardon the pun). You can choose to see beauty in the glint of the sun reflecting off the black sand, feel love in the touch of the grains against your skin, hear beautiful melodies in the sound of the ocean waves lapping the shore, smell intoxicating perfumes and taste salty goodness as you dive head first into love. Take the time to sit in awareness and gratitude, choose to take in the beauty and the love around you knowing you are a part of the universe and the universe is a part of you.
Beautiful words by Anna Martin