Today’s Meditation: If You Had All the Time and Money in the World, What Would You Do with Your Life?
Last night’s class was focused on opening the front of the body. We did a lot of backbending, whether on the ground, standing poses, belly and back. People often think of Wheel Pose, or Upward Bow, when they think of a heart opener, but of course there are many more. Upward Dog, Bow, Locust, Airplane, Dancer’s Pose, Fish, Supine Plank; these are all great heart openers.
When we work to open the front of the body, it can be such a release. The muscles of the upper back, specifically the rhomboids, get to do their job of contracting and bringing the shoulder blades closer together. The pectoral muscles get a good stretch, especially the pectoralis minor, which is constantly contracted as we hunch over our computer and phone. But many times, in addition to the physical relief we get through opening the front of the body, we may also feel the swell of emotion that comes with opening our fourth chakra, our heart chakra, known as “Anahata” in Sanskrit.
Even though I’m not practicing with students, I often feel like I’m when I teach. I’m breathing with them, moving them through the poses and whatever the physical theme, I can feel it in my body as well. Last night, I was inspired to share some thoughts as we were nearing the end of class and students were resting. The thoughts were:
“If you had all the time and money in the world, what would you be doing with your life?”
“As we build the fertile soil in our hearts, brains and bodies through meditation and mindfulness practices like yoga, that is the time to sow the seeds of our dreams.”
The first question is inspired by one I believe I was asked when I was working with one of my favorite teachers, Rolf Gates, very early in my teaching career. I remember when he asked a group of us in a teacher meeting, it stopped me in my tracks. At the time, I had just quit my full time job and was teaching as much as I could but I was a very green teacher. I had grand visions of where I wanted to go so if you’d asked me that question then, I’d surely say that I was in exactly the right place.
The second statement is inspired by the book, “The Seven Laws of Spiritual Success” by Deepak Chopra. I have this both in book and audio book form, because to hear him read it makes even more of an impact. He talks about sowing the seeds of your wishes and desires as your mind is still in the act of meditation. I love this visual. As we sit and meditate, we DO create fertile soil within which to plant the seeds of our dreams. If we don’t do it then, when will we do it? What will happen to those dreams?
Working with heart opening shapes in a yoga class is a perfect physical action to take to open the body. When we open the body, we open our minds. Our minds become more supple, our thoughts become more fluid and our overall demeanor is more relaxed. We are often able to see outside the box within which we live and open our minds up to other ideas and possibilities. I remember when I left my corporate job to teach yoga full time, many of my colleagues told me what they really wanted to be doing with their life, be it not for their bills, their family, the sense they had of how they were supposed to be living their life. We all live with these pressures and expectations; but if we don’t listen to the voice inside of us, tugging our heartstrings, how are we to experience true joy?
Along with being a dreamer, I am also a pragmatist. I have vision boards as well as spreadsheets and I would never advise anyone, yoga teacher or not, to “envision their best life, manifest it and it will happen” without advising along the lines of all the practical, business related and “rubber meets the road” actions that have to occur in order do what it is you truly want to do. One of the biggest barriers for many people in making any kind of significant transition is money. I often suggest that people at least try on the side to work their joy and passion into their life; even if it’s for only 1 hour a day! This can be all that’s possible as a start but it can keep the passion alive.
Sometimes in order to find our true passion, we have to start with a really big, open ended, lofty question. Something like, “If you had all the time and money in the world, what would you be doing with your life?” If you closed your eyes, took a few deep breaths and asked yourself that question in your mind, would something arise? What would it be? It’s often in these moments of stillness that we can find clarity and hear the voice of our soul. That’s the voice we often should listen to but it’s drowned out by the noise all around us. It’s muffled by our own thoughts, our fears, our sense of what we SHOULD be doing, instead of what we were BORN to do.
So, as you practice your yoga and meditation, take a moment before you end to ask yourself this question. Listen for what arises. Then, when you are done, sit at your desk. Take out paper or your computer and write. Start to create an action plan. Make the rubber meet the road. Do it over and over again until you are living that life. What other choice do you have?