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Staying Mindful in Turbo-Charged Times

During the course of several conversations last week, the topic frequently turned to how turbo-charged things feel right now. After three years of pause, people are waking up early, trying to squeeze in all of the things they missed from “the before-times” while still trying to lean into the homesteading habits they discovered during the pandemic. Childcare and elder care needs have shifted yet again as people are faced with return-to-office or a new “hybrid” business model. Airports are again teeming with travelers. Masks are coming off for public transit and Broadway. And in the yoga world, studios are opening and reopening, and people are returning to in-person classes, even as others (me) continue to teach privates over zoom. Things have both expanded and contracted around us in miraculous ways over the past three years.

As terrible as the pandemic has been – and I would not wish for one again – the blessing in the pause has been that so many of us discovered or deepened personal grounding practices: yoga, breathwork, meditation, journaling, art, etc. Some of us undertook this work to lessen anxiety, or improve sleep, or lower blood pressure, but discovered as things progressed that these practices also helped us to live more intentionally, consciously, and mindfully. With this newfound awareness and clarity, it became easier to see how we show up in the world for others and ourselves (!) affects our families, our communities, and – yes – the greater collective.

The question that has arisen in these conversations that I’ve been having – again and again – is how do I stay present as things gear up again in the world, in the middle of what feels like a seismic shift? How do I hold onto this sense of mindfulness that I’ve discovered? How do I simply “return to my breath”?

Last week, I attended a half-day meditation over Zoom with my teacher, Rev. angel Kyodo williams. Again, this question presented itself from within the group, and Rev answered it with a knowing smile and a fair amount of silence to allow the other person to process. The answer was to “just return.” And the important word in that phrase just return is not return, as one might assume. The operative word in this case is just. Just return. No drama, no what if’s, no how am I supposed to, no but I gotta, no what abouts. You just...simply...return. And I know it sounds easy. It can be very challenging, but it’s also only as challenging as we make it. We just return.

I offer here one more related piece of wisdom from Rev. One of my fellow meditators confessed during the talk-back that he was experiencing some difficulty with his personal yoga practice. He said he’d found it easy to get onto his mat regularly during the pandemic, but now that the world was opening again and there were more choices available to him, his discipline was waning, and he was finding his practice muddied by distractions. Rev cracked a big smile and said, “Go get yourself. Just go get yourself.”

It is a heady, whirlwind of a time, friends. Enjoy it; embrace it. Honor your newfound boundaries. And go get yourself.

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