I have found myself overthinking lately, well, this is actually an overly common cycle I find myself in. Our thoughts, they take over, often times creating situations that don't exist and taking our nervous system along for a ride believing that the situation is actually real. My overthinking got so bad the other day that I actually said to me myself, out loud, "Stop! Just stop!" Do you ever find yourself doing the same thing? We know, no matter what we think meditation is, we will never stop those thoughts. Even Patangali says in the second sutra that yoga is the practice of calming the fluctuations of the mind. The key words there are practice, and calming, not removing completely. I see it as this, just recognize, recognize that you are in that space and that is all they are, illusions, just thoughts, and we are not our thoughts. Redirect. Close your eyes. Take a deep breath.
Picture is from the book When Things Fall Apart - Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön
As we make our way from late March into April, beginning the long and slow transition from Winter to Spring, I am reminded of a passage from one of my favorite books, Wintering The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times by Kathrine May. I have always had a hard time with Winter, that is until I read this book. This book made me change the way that I look at and use these dark and cold months. I see it now as a time to retreat, to learn, and to grow. I have reached the point that when Spring finally does arrive, I find I am almost weary of losing the guarded and private retreat that I have created. But! With Spring emerges growth, and that growth has been taking place all Winter, and there is possibility with in all of that.
It is becoming more apparent, beyond what yoga has been saying for thousands of years, but through science and research the importance of our breath, especially in relation to our nervous system. Equal-Ratio breath is one of the best breathing techniques to calm not only the mind, but the nervous system as well and helps to bring homeostasis back to the body. This breathing technique can be done anywhere and is a simple as having your inhale and your exhale match to an equal count. Picture below is from Yoga of the Subtle Body by Tias Little (an all time favorite book of mine).
Readiness and commitment is what gets us started, but it is practice that keeps us going and gets us to our goals. Practice is also where we learn the most, the journey is often the more important than the final result. Abhyāsa is diligent focus and practice, and this requires time, and most importantly - Effort. If reaching your goals often seems overwhelming once you have got yourself started, then pause, look at what is you want and break it down into smaller goals, and daily tasks that you can more easily achieve, and then build from there. Progress takes time, but it also takes practice, and a smidge of patience. (Picture below is from The Path of the Yoga Sutras by Nicolai Bachman)