Ironically, the very first yoga class I ever taught, a restorative class (meant to relax the body and mind), took place on the second floor of a yoga studio on 23rdand Park in Manhattan during a protest just before rush hour. As if the copious amounts of angry people with blow horns wasn’t enough it seemed like every fire truck in Manhattan decided to take the 23rdstreet route.
I was already anxious about teaching for the first time and now I had to attempt to help my students relax in a chaotic environment when I didn’t know how to relax myself.
I once had a meditation coach I used to work with who taught me many different forms of meditation. I would stare at a flame or the leaf of a plant with my eyes hazily open. I learned to follow my breathing; come back to the breathing. A practice. The basis of meditation and how I had interpreted it had transformed during this time as I no longer tried to shut out my thoughts or outside distractions, frustratingly trying desperately and abusively to quiet my mind. Instead, I honored my thoughts; I acknowledged them. The practice became a respect for my mind, rather than a punishment. Only then could I begin practicing to let them go and once again, return to the breath.
I have spent my life surrounded by those who have been diagnosed with some form of Attention Deficit Disorder. What a terrible word, ‘disorder.’ How inaccurate of a description. These have been some of the smartest, most talented, and inspiring people I’ve ever met. As society tells them there is something wrong with them, their attention is literally already on three other things that are probably more beneficial to them. Their energy and attention, able to be dispersed across many different subjects, quickly acknowledging and absorbing what each has to offer. And ‘disorder’ doesn’t quite compete. They are literally unstoppable.
These are both of my brothers as well as my mother. Majority rules in this case and leaves just my father and I. I remember sitting down to practice piano growing up and getting so frustrated and angry because in a house of five, it was near impossible to get a moment of silence and my mind couldn’t focus on that ONE thing.
So there I was, focusing on my sequence, my first class, my doe eyed students, sirens and blow horns, instead of relaxing.
Come back to the breath. Acknowledge. Respect. Release. Come back to the breath.
Instead of getting frustrated, instead of running away, denying the reality of the clearly distracting obstacles, I decided to run towards them. I asked the students to close their eyes and come into their breath. I asked them to choose one sound to focus on. What is the texture of the sound? What is the color of the sound itself? Where is it felt in the body? Come back to the breath. Next. What is the conversation you hear? If inaudible, what is the feeling of the conversation? Who’s faces does the conversation belong to? Come back to the breath.
Slowly, the chaotic contributors were acknowledged one by one. And although still present, our minds were able to settle after having acknowledged them and seeing/hearing them from different angles. Our ears would hear but no longer listen saying, “been there, done that.”
And we were able to practice. At the end of the class, I even had students approach me and say how relaxed they felt, that they forgot about the noise entirely.
As I write today’s post, the radio alarm is going off in my bedroom and there is a man named Vlad in my wall working on the electrical system but really just sounds like he’s trying to cut down a forest with a handsaw, yelling Russian at someone over the phone from time to time. There is a woman outside the window talking to no one in particular yet being heard by everyone. And this is New York City at 9am.
Whether in the city or anywhere else, we are always surrounded by different stimulus tugging at our attention and sipping our energy. It can be irritating, distracting, sometimes, unbearable. Perhaps if we only take a moment, come back to our breath, acknowledge, respect, and release.
Come back to the breath.
#breath #breathe #yoga #creatrix #restorative #newyorkcity #nyc #citylife #stress #noise #chaos #healing #holistic #senses #add #adhd #psychology #practice #meditation