by Ali Valdez
There used to be a time when the types of things that concerned our blessed generation were quite simple: job security, status, accumulation. Growing up, we didn’t have to deal with a perilous planet with diminishing resources, escalating nuclear armament or the prospects of being replaced by robots. In an increasing culture of convenience and conceptual disconnection, how can we take each moment in our lives and be fully in the present moment? We cannot single-handed solve the world’s larger problems, yet we can participate at varying degrees in their perpetuation or paranoia. Spiraling over tanks on the National Lawn, or counting how many of Musk’s rockets until we move to Mars won’t get us any closer to presence or being grounded.
What we do have under our control are our attitude and our reactions. Believe it or not, we contain this power every waking moment, and efficient, well-versed yogis can even do so in their sleep. Imagine re-directing your subconscious attitude too! Seem as far-fetched as the Kuiper belt? That’s ok, here are a few simple things done consistently, each day, that can infuse your life not only with meaning but joy despite whatever external pandemonium might try siphoning it away.
- Meditate | Breathwork: What a revelation that a yoga teacher would suggest this. Yes, but suggesting and doing…two different things. Whether it be the first few minutes when you rise or when you settle in for the night, we possess the ability to set the tone for the pace of our day and segue into night (again, back to conscious dreaming…). Focusing on breath first isn’t just a yoga studio novelty; it’s a basic human function. Take advantage of the elixir of oxygen, and see how your views begin to take on new context.
- Food | Body: Imagine the potential for each meal to heal your body, sharpen your mind and lift your spirit. Two seconds to say thank you for your food. Choose sensibly, chew slowly, absorb the flavors. When you can, get up to move from your desk, go for a quick walk, grab a yoga class on your lunch break. My favorite? Con-calls upside down. Each day we need to eat and move- imagine bringing the mantra “your body is a temple” into your daily choices three to five times, pausing for holiness in the bustle of daily transit.
- Learning | Teaching: Each day commit to learning something new, or sharing knowledge with someone else. Keeping the mind stimulated and growing prevents ennui, which in turn breeds inertia. The act of participating in learning or relay via teaching keeps us connected and evolving. Sounds good to me!
- Bless Another: Not everyone is going to queue up on a Starbucks pay-it-forward, but have you ever been the recipient of one? I have! It was amazing. Small gestures like that, someone opening a door, or helping you carry something infuses your day with gratitude, and is contagious by nature. Think about one small action you can take to make someone else’s day brighter, and naturally see how the universe conspires to return the favor.
There are so many ways to take control back of our lives and understanding of what existence means. Small things done consistently, over time, reap large results. Just like a consistent yoga practice introduces once hidden parts of yourself and delicately unfolds them, revealing a tender mystery of self-realization and compassion. Life as we know it is rapidly evolving, but how we conscientiously choose to live each moment can evolve too.