UnRule #4 - Be Mindful (3:31 audio)
Un-Rule #4: Be Mindful
If I’m perfectly honest, Un-Rule #3: FEEL GOOD means absolutely nothing if we don’t know what good feels like. Un-Rule #4: BE MINDFUL is about paying attention and listening so we understand what GOOD feels like. Be Mindful is my nice way of saying to myself, “get your head on straight girl and pay attention!”
Sadly, we all run around life sometimes with our heads disconnected from our bodies. Heck, I do that all the time. I’m a natural born klutz, which means I am the type of person who discovers a bruise or cut on my body several days after it happened and can’t remember how I got it because I’m being too mind-LESS to pay attention to where my my body ends and the door frame begins or to bother to remember the injury as it happens. Sigh.
Even though the human brain is functionally incapable of true multi-tasking, I like to pretend I am really good at it. In reality though, I can only do one thing at a time. Sure, my left hand can rub my belly while my right hand can pat my head, and it may seem like I’m multi-tasking. But in reality, my left hand is only doing one thing, rubbing my belly. And my right hand is only doing one thing, patting my head. My right hand cannot pat my belly and rub my head at the same time. And anytime I try, I get the tasks and the body parts all confused anyway.
Every yoga class I have ever taken, on some level or another, was a big game in trying to multi-multi-task. (yes, I meant to say multi-twice). Some instructors would give a laundry list of six, or seven, or even eleven or twelve directions in every single pose! Unable to really effectively do them all at once anymore than the instructor could spit the words of instruction out all at once, the whole thing always turned into a game of trying to keep up with machine gun fire directions. I always failed miserably. And when I gave my students too many cues at once, we all failed.
Now that’s not to say that I didn’t find teachers who slowed down. I eventually learned to watch my students’ bodies and give them one cue, and wait until they did it before giving them a different cue. There are definitely yoga teachers out there who give instructions slowly, one at a time. And, even they typically give at least three or four different things to do, one after another, in each pose. But even with only three or four cues, I still didn’t have time to listen!
It was just TOO MUCH!
What I discovered when I finally landed my little bum on my mat alone in Yoga Wonderland was that I could do ONE THING, and then spend some time with my breath feeling the feels. Oh those feels felt GOOD! I took things on my own timing, and my timing was slower than a snail’s or caterpillar’s pace climbing a mountain. My own timing is REALLY SLOW!
For me, slowing down is the key to being mindful. Being mindful is how I learned to PAY ATTENTION. Rather than playing catch-up and keep-up with the teacher and all their cues and directions, I found I was playing follow-the-feeling, and listen-to-the-sensation with my body.