A Little Softening Goes a Long Way

I’ve been thinking a lot about the pitfalls of rigidity recently. Strict adherence to a certain set of beliefs, or a certain pattern of behavior, without allowing anything else in. It keeps finding me, in conversations and in personal experiences. Since I started meditating 7 years ago, I was pretty much convinced that my particular type of meditation was the answer to all of life’s woes. There wasn’t anything that wouldn’t get better, eventually, with enough meditation. I appreciated that other people had practices that worked for them, but I secretly thought to myself that I had it all figured out, and they didn’t. ‘If only they practiced this type of meditation, they would…’

Through a lot of soul searching, particularly over the past 6-8 months, I’ve come to realize this (and maybe I’m a bit late to the game on this one): Conscious Health Meditation will make 70-80% of things in your life 70-80% better. Some things will get 50% better, some things will get 100% better. And then there will be a whole world of things that will blossom and flourish in a way you didn’t even know was possible. There’s no one thing that can fix us. Nor should there be.

 I literally needed to open my heart- both physically and emotionally, and I didn’t have the tools to do that myself.

I literally needed to open my heart- both physically and emotionally, and I didn’t have the tools to do that myself.

Here’s an example. The past several weeks I’ve had some nagging upper back pain that just wouldn’t go away, which I attributed to spending too much time in an uncomfortable kitchen chair where I do most of my work. I tried stretching, heating pads, and also saw an applied kinesiologist who is also a chiropractor. Nothing really helped. Last Friday night I had a really strong urge to go to a yoga class, my first in several months, so I went to a special Friday night class that was all about opening up the heart chakra. There was live cello and drum music, and the class was slow-paced and somewhat restorative as the teacher led us through a series of poses designed to open the chest and heart chakra. The class was amazing, and immediately after it was over, my back pain was gone, and it hasn’t come back.

Yesterday I spoke to a new student who is a yoga teacher. A few weeks ago, she learned a similar meditation practice to what I teach, from a book, and it has blown her mind so much that she wants to take her practice deeper with a live teacher. She expressed what almost sounded like embarrassment that she’s been a yogi for years, working on expanding her physical and spiritual practice, but after just a few weeks of this meditation, she felt a sense of equanimity that was completely new and awe-inspiring. I told her about my yoga experience last week, how one yoga class completely changed me. I literally needed to open my heart- both physically and emotionally, and I didn’t have the tools to do that myself.

 We should always leave our hearts open to new experiences, new knowledge, and new wisdom.

We should always leave our hearts open to new experiences, new knowledge, and new wisdom.

A friend recently told me he’s learned a lot about himself through his yoga practice. He said, in his hilarious way, ‘these yoga people are always talking about softening’. That really struck a chord, and it perfectly expressed my recent realizations and experiences. It’s easy to get caught up in trying to ‘perfect’ a yoga pose physically, but it’s when we stop trying so hard and soften into the pose that we get the most benefit. This softening, of course, can be applied to our personal lives as well, as we let go of the need to be right all of the time, as we get inspired or healed by something outside our comfort zone, or as we allow ourselves to truly see the world from someone else’s perspective.

Meditation allows me to tune into my intuition, that same intuition that told me I needed to go that yoga class last week. It’s given me that, and so much more. I will forever be grateful that I learned to meditate all those years ago, and that I get to teach this beautiful practice to my students. That said, it’s always a dangerous proposition to think we have it all figured out. Even if it seems scary, especially if it seems scary, we should always leave our hearts open to new experiences, new knowledge, and new wisdom. Allowing ourselves to soften is the only true way to grow.