One of my greatest pleasures in being a yogini is the ability to travel the world meeting people from all age groups and all walks of life. I frequently find myself in the company of young people who remind me of myself – when I was just starting to learn my way around a Yoga studio.
I call those days my my boxing days because not only was I boxing in the gym, but I was fighting with life itself. Back then I considered meditation to be an abstract, religious practice available only to the few who have the patience for it. I was content to derive pleasure from material things like the Porsche I so obviously needed. What I didn’t realize is that getting pleasure from an object is a double-edged sword; while material things can deliver intense pleasure quickly, it is just as easy to get cut by the ensuing crash.
The overarching characteristic of meditation is self-love. Self-love means not beating yourself up and, in fact, being compassionate towards other people. We humans are beings that crave the wellness of others in addition to our own. Some styles of meditation focus on breathing while others focus on the recitation of mantras, but the main tenet of most styles of meditation is the concept of “resetting” the mind. That is, through controlled breathing or chanting, or both, the clutter in our minds falls out of focus and the present moment becomes clear. This simple lesson can be applied to every aspect of life.
For example, the folks on Madison Avenue feed the world a steady diet of fashion and engineered beauty, images designed to stir up feelings of envy and poor self-worth. These feelings reside in the subconscious, so primal that it is difficult to describe them with words. One lesson from meditation that can be applied here is the idea of living in the now. All we have to do is make the decision to get on with our lives in the present moment and keep thinking of the present moment. In other words, keep hitting the reset button.
As we zoom out of our most basic emotions, feelings too basic for words, we can take focus on the sentences we form in our heads to express these feelings. At this level of the mind the clutter gets thick with insults, arguments and half-constructed sentences churning in the flotsam. How great it would be to find a method of expelling these cynical interlopers! One way to combat a string of unpleasant words floating around in your mind is to make the decision to repeat words of love. This can be in the form of an ancient mantra or something you just thought up. Either way, your negative thoughts will be neutralized, and you can carry on anew.
If we continue to zoom out we can see ourselves interact with other people. People who gossip, people who need to feed their egos by denigrating others, people who feel wrong about themselves and so are determined to prove other people wrong. How can a person counter such negativity? Love. If you are in the vicinity of a toxic person, imagine an ocean of love pouring down on top of them. If you can imagine loving someone who is a challenge to love, your own negative feelings will become outdated and inconsequential. Your heart will be reset and ready for compassion instead of contempt.
The theme is a simple one: Your mind is tough enough to overcome the obstacles you have in your daily life. Just be ok with yourself and outside forces will seem small to you.
And when each of my students comes to this understanding, I share with them my secret: Teaching this to my students is my favorite reset button of all time.
Denise K. Bonnaig