This is a picture of me attempting to meditate on a weekend in my house.
When Tom and I saw this house for sale in 2019, it was a marvel. All hardwood floors! Floor to ceiling windows! Vaulted ceilings! How spacious and soothing! Where do we sign??? Then we moved in with two children, a geriatric cat, and eventually Covid Puppy. It turned out the features we loved promoted the near constant parental lament “Oh my God, why are you all so LOUD?!?!”
So I should just go in a room and close the door, right? Yes, I agree! There was this extra room of no particular use on the second floor and the instant I saw it I was like, THAT is my yoga and art space! It was perfect. Small but comfortable. Giant closet for supply storage. Skylight for extra sun. And also a nonsensical 6 foot by 4 foot hole in the wall that overlooked the first floor sun room. As we were fixing up the place prior to moving in, multiple contractors looked at it dubiously and said “We can just sheetrock that right now while we’re here before you paint” and we were all “No, we love it! The openness! The space! The sun! It’s lovely.” And then it turned out that I could be sitting in meditation in that room and hear a mouse fart in the basement. Not so lovely.
If you haven’t guessed, today’s post is about the senses and the role they play in enhancing or obstructing our jack shit practice. Sensory withdrawal is a major component of meditation, as the input we receive from our senses distracts us from our connection inward. Every phone notification beep, tv news report, and overheard conversation is a chance to pull us out of our practice and into our identities in the seen world where we are needed to do stuff. So what can be done about this?
Observe your own sensory responses throughout that day and figure out what you find grounding and what you find triggering. Make a list and see what comes up the most. In my case, I find discordant sounds distracting, but phone beeps and sounds of unhappy conversation fully send me into the fixer mode where I have to go save the day. I love the smell of essential oils and incense. I don’t like looking at clutter, and I hate being too cold. That becomes my list of senses that need to be managed so I can properly set up for relaxation. On weekends, that pretty much means setting up in my perfectly arranged yoga room - after everyone has gone to bed!
I want to share with you the yoga I practice, teach, and live.