There are thoughts dancing around the edges of my mind this morning, ones I can’t quite pin down. I’m not even sure the ideas are related. But I think the ideas centre around the notion that the world wants more because it has a hole it just can’t fill. It wants more of everything without really thinking about the why of it. People want the next thing, the next purchase, the next teacher, the next lesson, the next thrill, the next fad. Why are we looking for more, when most of us haven’t even begun to wring the nuance out of what is here?
We see it every day, an artist drops an album with seventeen songs and within hours fans are asking when the next album is coming out. An author takes years to write a book and is asked about the next story as soon as the last page is read. We’re all guilty of it to some degree or another; binge watching television shows is a thing after all. We’ve been trained to be consumers and that’s what we do.
Wanting more isn’t a bad thing, its manifestation at its most basic level. It’s the mindlessness that feels off about our desires for me. And what I want more than anything is mindfulness. Is it possible for the world to deepen their rabid desires into something more meaningful? How can people stop looking for the next thing and recognise what they may be looking for is deeper fulfilment that lasts beyond the moment.
I don’t know why it is rolling around in my mind. But when I began yoga classes about twelve years ago, I remember being told that Shavasana was the most important asana. Shavasana (or corpse pose) laying on your back and breathing in stillness, is often used at the end of classes as a cool down and integration. When I began learning yoga I understood stillness was important for people, but I couldn’t quite reconcile that Shavassina was more important than working my way into some of the more advanced poses. I thought being a pretzel WAS the goal. I had come in with a ‘do’ and not a ‘be’ mindset. I was a very sheltered 24-year old who didn’t understand that yoga meant practice, not pretzel.
Now, I understand that I brought the do mindset to class with me because of the way I grew up. As a new student, I could only hear part of what was being shown to me because I had an idea in my head about what I thought yoga should be and I was blind to anything more. I think it may be the same for mass consumption. Sometimes we behave mindlessly. We do things because we think we should, or because it seems easier. We do things because we’re part of society, cogs in an endless wheel.
Shavasana is intended as a fully conscious pose, aimed at teaching a person to be awake and in complete surrender. It’s a way of bringing the inner energy into alignment with the physical body. Holding that place of stillness and surrender isn’t an easy thing when a person first begins, it takes practice. Especially if they are looking at yoga as a thing to ‘do for the body’ (which I was) and not a practice that reveals who they are.
My teacher talked a lot about yoga foundations being the most important part of the whole practice; the most important poses are the ones that teach you breathing and stillness. It’s about how to move in a way that feels good for you and a way to listen deeper to your body, mind and spirit. The most transformation happens between the poses when you shift mindfully into the next asana. I understood her to a point, but it took awhile to undo my conditioning. Seeing the foundations as the most important thing to grasp was in direct conflict with any sort of training I had ever had before.
Everyone knows you start at a low level and work your way up to the most valued lessons when you go to school. Most people certainly don’t think the foundations learned in kindergarten are more important than their university degree. But we recognise what happens if foundations are not grasped fully. Learning to play, to get along with people, how to rest and care for yourself are all valuable things learned in childhood. If those simple, yet important, lessons are not grasped early in life, later on, a person can become full of bitterness and fear.
For me, honouring what is here at this moment has become an art form. Do I need action, do I need rest, do I need to take off my socks and touch my feet to the earth …
Knowing how to answer these questions slows the need to fill myself from an outside source. I become the master and director of my world. I slow down, trusting that what is needed is present now. And know that inspiration (that leads to action) will be easy to find alignment with as long as I continue to listen in that way. How I feel builds a foundation for more that I don’t even need to perceive. Consumption becomes less rabid, more mindful and everything about what I do deepens and its the space between my choices that shift my world.