Last month my son and I retuned from a wonderful vacation back to my birth state of Ohio. While vacationing, I had the opportunity to hike to and through some amazing valleys, ledges, and waterfalls. While in nature I took the time to live in my moment, looking into the lush green foliage, sun illuminating the many wild flowers, and the creeks and rivers gurgling purposefully through the rocks and ridges. I would close my eyes and breathe in deeply, for a moment expanding my awareness through the bubble of calm that is the atrium.
Sometimes I could hear cars, but in those moments the sound seems distant. Instead I notice the pocket of beauty that I’m in. I hear the quiet breathing of the plants. Here, in the middle of the city of Cuyahoga, I am still.
Just like this place, a haven of stillness in the center of the city, we need to pause in the center of our lives.
Sometimes, our schedules, our commitments, our responsibilities, they weigh down on us. We see it in the rounded shoulders, the downward gazes, the barely perceptible sighs as we give our attention to all the things in our lives that need it. We may seek externally for something that might allow us to have a break, to stop everything from rushing along… just for a moment.
Here, within the rhythms of the days, we take time to touch the stillness. We create the pause we are looking for, the chance we are seeking to step out of the rush for a moment and into ourselves.
Each time we come here, we immerse ourselves in yoga, but we do not withdraw. Rather, we are here to live yoga, to integrate it into life, to swirl our eager way into this space and then to breathe the stillness out into the rest of our lives.
The more we take this pause, the more we are able to pause out there, in the swirl. The more we dive inside, the easier it becomes to see. And the more we practice this stillness, the better chance we have to find clarity in the middle of a grand decision, or pause in the middle of our emotions, or find silence in the middle of our anxious mind-chatter.
Because the truth is, there is a sacred space within. We carry it everywhere we go. The entranceway is the breath, the exitway framed by a sparkling new world that greets eyes fresh from meditation.
Clarifying our minds and coming back and back to the present does not necessarily mean we never suffer doubt or pain. But this practice does invite us to master it, again and again, in shorter and shorter time periods. In just breathing and listening we align with ourselves and our purpose. And from the haven of our inner sacred space, we are able to step back into our lives with calm presence.
I feel blessed to have had the opportunity to hold space here in this beautiful location, to have had some small part in spreading stillness within the community here. I see it on the faces of all the beautiful souls who join me on their mats during each yoga class. I have lost count of how many times I have seen someone sit down on their mat and sigh… not the heavy sigh of responsibility, but rather the deep, soul-easing sigh of coming home. The kind of sigh that allows worry to just slip off the shoulders because the inhale was so big, and that lets emotion swoosh away along the smooth slide of the exhale.
Through just breathing, and reconnecting, we unwind ourselves from the threads that bind our mind to our lives. Through just taking a moment, a pause In-Between, our soul has a chance to breathe also. When we stop, and observe, and step behind our mind for a moment, we shift. Our eyes become that of the watcher, our perspective becomes the unchanging. We enter our inner, sacred space.
The truth is, we are enormous. We are connected to an infinite sea of existence. The mind itself is an infinite reservoir of flux, always changing, always clinging to something new and painfully letting go of something old. But the fundamental law of the universe is Balance. And if we have an infinite reservoir of flux, we must also have an infinite reservoir of stillness… somewhere.
When we take time out from the demands of the world outside and dive underneath the skin… when we truly feel ourselves… we know the immensity of our essence. We see our path through life with a different perspective, one that rises above the crowded emotions of the mind and takes in all the elements that have come together to create this moment in time.
When we take time to dig underneath the tangles and the layers, we find that fertile ground from which to grow. When we pause for long enough, the binding tangle unwinds, and space opens up. And we flow into what is right.
I enter the studio and gym doors, a relaxed smile on my face, smooth floor calling. Once again, I take a deep breath. I release it in a sigh that comes from somewhere deep inside, and all of the ups and downs of the outside world dissipate.
This is enough. A stolen moment. A deep breath. A sacred space, wherever it may be. A safe bubble of peace, inviting us to enter the still reservoir that each of us contains within us.