“Yoga is the blending of movement and stillness”- Dennis Hill
Patanjali says yoga is the restraint of thoughts in the mind. No thoughts = no mind. Easier said then done right?
One can sit down to meditate everyday and try and cultivate this stillness through being still… Sitting, watching. That’s what Patanjali would prescribe in order to obtain enlightenment.
The last 2 years I have experienced lots of movement. Lots of travel. Big cities, remote villages. My most favorite times of finding stillness though are in the most chaotic places. Airports. Subways. Chicken buses. Its possible, its about finding your inner peace always, your inner temple, your sacred space you can hold for yourself, without being effected by people and things around you.
Even when your in remote places though, it doesn’t necessarily mean its going to be easier. The mind is always going to think of something to distract you. At first, at the yoga farm, when we sat down each morning to meditate before the sun even rose of the volcanoes, I was frustrated with the birds chirping, the men in the boats laughing and fishing, the water pump, the wind brushing through the trees. I realized it was only a reflection of my inner state. I soon began to understand that instead of resisting the things around me, I can embrace them and they all began to become a beautiful symphony of the world around me, and getting to that state was no longer as challenging as before.
People are always getting discouraged by this concept of meditation and stillness. Here, we begin to introduce the concept of moving meditation, which is still meditation, since everything is moving all the time, we should work with the movement, not against it. It is what athletes refer to as being “in the zone” or a runners high, or do you ever enter a state of no thought when your folding laundry or washing dishes? You can live your life in a state of meditation. Cultivate this practice in everything that you do, with awareness and intention.
One of my biggest inspirations, Shiva Rea, led an ecstatic dance workshop and reminded everyone about the art of music and dancing. You can move in this state with complete stillness of the mind. When people say they “cant dance”, thats simply just not true. Everyone can dance, its just something you have yet to explore in your own body to feel the music. She says that dance is innate in everybody and it starts with the heartbeat. Boom Boom. Boom Boom. You hear the beat?
In yoga asana, we move more or less for an hour and a half, to move our energy, spread it out, free it from tension and blockages so that when we finish our practice, what do we feel in sivasana? Complete and utter stillness. No thought = no mind.
Essentially the same concept as Patanjali with regards to no thought = no mind. The view at the top is the same, but we all have different ways of getting to the top of the mountain to see the light.
So I encourage everybody as they move throughout their day, and may not have a sitting meditation practice, that you try and find stillness through movement.
Verify through your own experience.
Thats one theory and practice that is very much respected and I have experienced first hand.
I often times question, can we cultivate this same stillness through movement? In my personal practice and experience this is where I get to my deepest state.
If everything is energy then everything is constantly and consistently moving all the time. What happens when we are stressed? Our energy becomes constricted and therefore we are not able to move with ease and we begin to feel tension and hold on to it in our physical bodies, mostly in our neck, shoulders and hips. I know you know what I mean. You probably feel it there right now. I recently took a workshop with Erich Schiffmann (not related), and he reminded everybody to just “relaxxxxxx”. People say that all the time but what happens when you actually do it? Tension releases and your back in the flow. Essentially, when we feel emotional, it is energy is motion. When we start to bring awareness to this, and begin a letting go process, we begin to heal mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. And we begin to “relaaaaxxxx”, as Erich would say. Think of all the tension and personal dramas and stories you have held on to throughout your whole life. What would it feel like to let go, clean the state, and start over. You would feel free, light, and be able to feel this energy moving through you, creating space for stillness.
Breath or prana is our life force. Once we stop breathing we stop moving. So how can we work with the breath rather then against it to find stillness? We can watch our breath, we can take longer, deeper breaths to start engaging our PNS (parasympathetic nervous system) and through that we start to “relaxxxxx”, release tension with every exhale, and become still, create room for stillness. When you do this you can find stillness at the top and the bottom of each breath, and then instead of focusing on breath, you begin to focus on the space between the breath. My good friend Michelle, Director of the Mystical Yoga Farm, often says allow your breath to become your dance partner. You are not in control in this world, and as soon as you can surrender to the intense power of the universe, you will begin to experience flow. Let the breath breathe you.
Water. Our earth is made of mostly water and so are we. This is a direct reflection of what water represents which is change, fluidity, impermanence, flow. Think of a river. We can’t be completely still or the river will take us over, we have to rock and roll with the river without resistance. “Go with the flow”.
In Ayurveda, the sister science to yoga, we learn that we have all of the elements of the universe moving in us all the time. Our outer world is a direct reflection of our inner world. Fire, water, ether, air, and earth. Proportions changing with every moment. Movement.
Tai Chi, another practice involving connection with the elements. The idea is to find stillness creating harmony and flow with the elements outside and inside of you, so you begin to glide and move into stillness.
Permaculture offers the same concept, using and moving with the environment around you to create maximum efficiency with minimal effort.
Thats the idea right? Where minimal effort is needed to get the most out of your intention.