Training an Elephant to Stare at the Moon While Eating Freshly Baked Cookies

I watched the moon for quite some time last night. I watched as the clouds traveled across the sky, sometimes partially obscuring the moon, while at other times completely covering it leaving the night sky darker than usual. I watched, mesmerized by the constantly shifting night sky. I often tell my yoga students that thoughts are like clouds drifting through the sky, always shifting, never permanent. The challenge is to observe thoughts, just like clouds, without getting attached, chasing after them once they start to drift away, or morphing them into new shapes and forms. I had a true visual for my metaphor last night. The moon, with all its clarity, was always there, sometimes it just got a little obscured or momentarily hidden. Just like the clear mind or the true self, always there, just a little clouded over by all of the thoughts and emotions that we use to obscure our true selves.

I started reading, How to Train a Wild Elephant & Other Adventures in Mindfulness by Jan Chozen Bays. I hadn’t realized how much I was allowing strong emotions and anxiety to slowly consume more and more of my thought process, obscuring my moon, and disconnecting my mind, body, and heart from one another. Then yesterday I spent the morning baking. Once I got into the rhythm of things I quickly slipped into a meditative state. My mind was clear. I let the clouds just float on by instead of lingering on them, morphing them into images they were not, or chasing after them. I wasn’t worried about anything in the past, I wasn’t anxious about anything that might be in the future, I was fully attentive to each task I was immersed in.

One of the reasons I love baking, aside from the yummy things it produces and the joy of watching friends enjoy what I have made, is that it brings me great happiness. The reason it brings me great happiness is because it helps me to be truly present and mindful in each moment. Bays writes, “Mindfulness involves resting our mind in a place where there is no anxiety, no fear. In fact, in that place we find the opposite. We discover resourcefulness, courage, and a quiet happiness.” My moon has been obscured for huge chunks of time by all of the thoughts, emotions, and anxiety I have been lingering on and creating by not allowing myself to be fully present and mindful. “Mindfulness helps stabilize the heart and mind so they are not so badly tossed around by the unexpected things that arrive in our life.” I suppose I should get back to reading now.

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About djunapassman

I teach yoga, write, and edit. I live in a Brooklyn neighborhood that is changing faster than I can, or care to, keep up with. Manhattan still beckons me to her island a few subways stops away, reminding me of when I lived amongst her daily hustle and bustle.
This entry was posted in Mindfulness (or quieting an overactive mind), Yoga. Bookmark the permalink.

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