Breaking The Habits Of My Mind
I’ve thought about this blog post a fair bit over the past few days. Yep, over-analyzing is one of my (most probably, our) frequent habits. I am a product of a Western culture and mindset, after all. I look at my ‘to do’ lists and more often than not, engage in a bunch of mental gyrations - trying to figure out the perfect way to get things done, please my clients, my friends, my colleagues, and so on.
So, coming to the Kaiut method and its emphasis on feeling and sensation was a revelation of sorts for me. It started simply – go explore a new form of yoga. But that method quickly created dissonance in my habituated life. Not just the habits in my body but the habits of my mind. Rather than analyze the sensations, I was invited to just ‘feel’- not interpret, not figure out, not understand. This was not a place within my normal range of experience.
Oddly – at least for me- it wasn’t all that difficult in the beginning. Sure, I had moments of questioning and suspicion, but it was more like an open invitation to explore something I’d always been curious about, but had not yet acknowledged as important or useful in my daily life. The invitation was subtle, elegant, maybe even seductive in its simplicity. All I had to do was be there, be present, be curious and explore – no need to work to rearrange the experience with some sort of meta framework in my mind.
So here I found myself, in a new yoga practice where I could begin to let go of my analytical learning and training approach. Instead, I could practice for an hour and suspend all my thinking and ‘feeling’ (ha, thinking about feeling) habits.
This is an important piece: I could SUSPEND my analytical habits. Yep, stop them in their tracks. I could be curious – be open to experiencing my mind and my body in new ways. I could just observe and ‘ask’, but not out of habit. I observed out of curiosity – out of a desire to learn and explore freely. As that observation sinks in I realize, essentially, I had begun to surrender my old system of understanding my own physical, emotional and spiritual self.
Up to this point my mindfulness explorations were primarily determined by what I read. Buddhist & existential writers who challenged my notions of reality to be sure – but, in the end – though they got me closer to the experience of being more present in everyday life, there was very little ‘felt’ presence. That point where the experience of being alive felt connected, in-the-flow and of the moment. I thought about presence but didn’t feel it.
As the weeks and months practicing Kaiut moved along, I found myself finding freedom and mobility in my body that I hadn’t experienced for 10 plus years, probably more. I could get up in the morning with no aches or stiffness. My calves didn’t cramp at night and my lower back wasn’t a ‘stretch and groan’ phenomenon. And it didn’t stop there. There is new freedom in my mind as well.
So, here I am, nearly 2 years into my practice, and I have no clear idea where this practice will take me, but based on my experience so far I’m not remotely concerned about that. I’m not even analyzing it!
I’m just grateful for finding this method and how it has brought my focus to the moment, finding presence in the practice and in everyday life. And I am humbled now being a teacher of the method to be able to share this gift with others.