yoga and meditation-inspired designs


The practice of inner awareness is a challenging one, but the fruits of this labor have an enriching effect on our experience of the present moment. The contents of our inner world affect our perception and therefore, participation in the outer world. Often times, our minds are racing ahead of us into the unknown future or are hung up on a continuous review of the past. Thought processes are only problematic insofar as they are both negative and unconscious.  These silent operations show up overtly in all sorts of ways from a chronically furrowed brow to addiction to the choice to stay in unhealthy relationships. We keep on living with these outward signs of inner unrest until we develop the desire and strength to break out of our cyclic patterns, which often times requires an exit from our comfort zone.

Leaving the comfort zone (everyone has one) is critical to living non-robotically. Einstein’s definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again (running the same program) and expecting different results. The comfort zone is a hard place to leave because it requires our brain to make a new ‘neural pathway’. This action of connecting 2 or more brain cells is comparable to forging a new trail in the woods: it requires effort and lots of courage. As we age, we  become more robotic because we rely on the same neural pathways repeatedly and these trails become deeply ingrained in our brain structure. Although positive routine does exist and is vital to a healthy life, shaking things up every so often is good for the brain. Branching off and out of our habitual patterns can actually combat the process of neurodegeneration, one of the causes of aging. But before we start to branch out, we have to build awareness around what exists currently.

Practicing yoga or meditation creates awareness of our mental and physical make-up and also builds new neural connections. Research has confirmed that entering a state of focused awareness increases activity in the ‘feel-good center’ of the brain (R. Davidson, U of WI, 2003). Also, during the practice, our brain wave state changes slightly, at times profoundly, so we can notice what we are thinking about in a new way. Since many of our thoughts are unconscious, the practice of observing the mind becomes a requirement to finding peace and living more intentionally.

Thoughts are powerful little things of our own creation: we can change what we think about. We have a much higher degree of control over our inner world than our outer world and as we exercise this skill, we begin to empower ourselves and spend more time in the present moment (where everything happens). Once we become aware of what we are thinking about, we can start to weed out the thoughts that warp our perception of self... the worry about things out of our control... the wish that things were different than they are right now... the beliefs that hurt us/others. With practice of this ‘mindfulness’, our relationships deepen, our decision process becomes less of a process,  our well-being improves, and we become more adept at navigating through our emotional territory. Choosing to begin the practice is the hardest part of increasing the peace for yourself and therefore, for others. It is entirely up to you.