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By Paige Bradley-Pecoul

WED MAR 10, 2021

My beloved first yoga teacher, Alvina (above), kept an empty box outside the entrance to her studio. It was for our “stuff”. Not our physical stuff, but all our worries, demands, stresses and anxieties. “Don’t worry,” she would say with a sly smile, “You can always pick it up again on your way out, if you want to”.

This symbolic gesture taught me to see my practice as a refuge. When I step on my mat, I step into myself in a safe, quiet, loving way. I can put down what I am carrying long enough to clear my mind. The rhythm of breath and the awareness of sensation bring me into the present where I can just be. An interesting thing happens when I allow that. If and when I return to pick up my stuff, it’s lighter, less ominous, and less urgent.

A mind in overwhelm is stuck on go. If it is not interrupted, it will continue generating to-do’s, making everything seem like the most important thing, keeping you on a habitrail of doing. This will eventually lead to exhaustion and burnout. If you recognize this pattern in yourself, I encourage you to seek refuge from your busy life, your over stimulated mind, and your to-do list.

You can take refuge in:

  • Nature: Watch the clouds go by, listen to a stream or waterfall, sit under the moonlight, forest bathe, lie on the ground.
  • Silence: Spend 10 minutes or more simply sitting in silence in the morning or before bed, drive without the radio on, turn off notifications and put your phone down.
  • Darkness: Dim the lights in the evenings, sleep in total darkness, use an eye pillow during savasana, rub the hands together to warm them and cup them over the eyes.
  • Movement: Let the breath lead you through yoga, tai chi, qi gong, even running or walking.
  • Fellowship: Seek like minded, mutually supportive friendships to lean into.

Put down what you are carrying. Build resilience and become more productive by creating opportunities to be.

Jai Ma !