Years before Yoga Among Friends was a place, it was a concept of my heart. I wanted to create community, a place of belonging to something greater and not call it a “church”. I wanted to create an environment where the quality of peaceful sound could be witnessed and enjoyed. Chanting was still a long way from being a comfortable vehicle for calm. The mind is often resistant to creating one’s own internal vibration and it only creates more stress.
A year before opening the center, I walked into an art studio in Breckenridge, Colorado. Immediately, I was drawn to the sound of running water and fell in love with a handmade foundation with aspen leaves imprinted inside. A piece of art that spoke to my heart. I knew I found my expression of peace. It’s hard to believe the power of sound on the nervous system. It is the gateway to being able to shift from hearing noise to actually listening to the soul. The ability to tune into the active skill of listening is the gateway from shifting attention from the chatter of the little mind to being absorbed in the quality of ease.
For those that enter into our studio, the fountain continues circulating her flow of water, and she is still the welcoming reminder to slow down, take in a breath, settle into the experience of presence. She welcomes me each time I come into our reception area. She directs my attention to her steady circulation of the sound of her water trickling and the effect shifts my busy, roaming mind into presence. I have entered the sacred space of the studio. My mood shifts and the calm comes over me and I exhale. Each time I enter YAF, I am grateful for her steady and consistent sound. I water her as I would a plant, I care for her as I would a student.
We are all connected to the beauty of sound and movement; and yet, we do not hear or see clearly when we are too distracted with our worry, doubts, and fears. The sound of water is so healing for me since I too am flowing water. My nervous system needs to be nourished, and my physical body must flow with the movement of the breath as well. Inhale and exhale, the constant grace of being alive.
All life is movement; and yet, we are moving too quickly and not in the pace of grace. My heartbeat cannot keep up with the pushing and striving of my little mind directing me to do MORE. But when I walk into the studio, I immediately pause to listen. The fountain reminds me to be absorbed in her qualities of ease.
Sound offers the ability to deeply listen, go inward and nourish the deeper essence of our “beingness”. Noise is all around us. The constant bombarding words just keep us occupied with false information, angry tones of blame, and cries for help. How do we stop all this chatter in our minds and the moods that swing from being too anxious to just too exhausted to care anymore?
I offer this simple 5-minute practice. Please sit, and stop doing, thinking, or making anything. Just take a break to listen. Listen to the sounds around you. Feel your body settle into the chair or floor. Lie down or sit or just stand still. Notice the sounds around you. If the noise is too loud, just notice. Don’t judge or fix the outer world to make your world peaceful. Just be. If the mind is too loud with critical words, just listen. Observe the sounds without fixing them. Traffic outside, movement of life is just happening. It is not your role to fix it.
Then take ten breaths. Notice the belly expanding on inhale. Can you breathe into the whole pelvic floor without grasping or pulling at the breath? Just let it come in. Welcome the breath as pure grace. Be grateful for that sweet breath. Feel it. Now, just exhale and let it go. Notice the belly pull in as the breath moves out.
Continue observing the inhale as it meets the exhale. Now listen. Begin the ujjayi breath. That internal whisper breath. Choose to listen, choose to bring your mind into the feeling of the breath. What does it feel like? Notice your words. Can it just be enough to observe the thoughts moving through without fixing? Yes, It is more than enough to just listen, breathe, and feel your LIFE. What a grace to be present for just this moment.
After this five minutes of unplugging from the habit of doing and focusing on the sound of the breath’s movement, feel the effects of this simple practice. Then offer a blessing to the world. Peace is now being offered from your heart. Light a candle. Watch the flame move and feel the flame. That beauty, that light is in you. You just turned your pilot light on. Allow that inner light to shine into the world.
We can heal and we can share this love. You can choose where to place your attention and it starts with listening. And if you are truly brave, chant AUM and feel the vibration of your true sound. I hear words, but I listen to the heart.
Please practice this daily as we hold vigil for the light moving towards the winter solstice. It is a practice for this season. We are practicing together and as a community, we can be the light in the world. Choose to be peaceful, choose to be the love in the world.
So now it’s your turn. How was this practice for you? I would love for you to share your comments and thoughts about your practice below.
With love and light,