|Beautiful World by Rene Magritte|
I’ve been admiring Charlotte Bell, yoga teacher, author, and editor, from afar for quite a long time. I especially love the posts she has written for the Hugger Mugger blog over the years. Recently, because I wanted to learn more about mindfulness meditation and I knew that Charlotte was a long-time practitioner of mindfulness meditation as well as a long-time yoga teacher, I gathered up my courage and asked her if she wanted to talk sometime! To my delight, she agreed, and after a very stimulating conversation, I asked her if she would do written interview with me about how her long-time experience with meditation helped support her through a recent bout of breast cancer. I’m leaving it unedited because, as always, Charlotte has many important things to say.
When I first heard the words “invasive ductal carcinoma” I felt an immediate shot of adrenaline. This lasted through the day. My partner was on the retreat with me. Since the retreat was silent, we had decided beforehand on a thumbs-up or thumbs-down signal for me to let him know the results. I gave him the signal when we were in the meditation hall, preparing to sit in the afternoon. I remember being more concerned about his response than my own during that meditation.
2.47: It is mastered when all effort is relaxed and the mind is absorbed in the Infinite.
2.48: Then we are no longer upset by the play of opposites.
Having been born in a flexible body, I focused for years on doing extreme poses, largely for my own ego satisfaction. My dad was a gymnast, so I inherited some of his physical abilities. But in the early 2000s, I shifted my intention more fully to the sutras’ version of mastery—relaxing all effort and letting my mind be absorbed solely in the present physical experience of the pose. This has helped me develop equanimity in practice and beyond.
Charlotte Bell began practicing yoga in 1982, and started teaching in 1986 and has taught yoga continuously since then. Certified by B.K.S. Iyengar, she teaches classes, workshops and teacher trainings. In 1988, she began practicing Insight meditation. She is currently finishing the Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification Program with Jack Kornfield and Tara Brach. Author of three books, Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice, Yoga for Meditators, and Hip-Healthy Asana: A Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain. Charlotte has written for Yoga Journal, Yoga International, CATALYST Magazine, Yoga U Online and the Hugger Mugger Yoga Blog. For more information visit charlottebellyoga.com.