One of the first things I heard from our yoga instructor was “keep your eyes on your own mat”. At first glance, this seems to be an admonishment not to be nosy. She went on to explain that everything we needed would be found on our own mat and nowhere else. But the only thing on my mat was me….
I always thought I was a visual learner, needing to see something new at least once. Surely, by watching how everyone else was moving, I would learn better. Instead, simply by listening to the instructions, trusting and moving my body accordingly, I was able to accomplish the asana (pose). Being able to remain and hold the asana requires me to listen to MY body and follow it’s cues. It doesn’t really matter what the very accomplished person next to me can do, or the newbie in front of me is attempting. When I let my eyes wander to others in the room, comparison and judgement invade my world. Keeping my eyes within the space of my own mat allows my heart and mind to quiet, become attuned to the present, and find just what I need.
Recently, I was introduced to the teachings of Eckhart Tolle, and am in the process of reading The Power of Now. After just a few pages, I realized two things: first, this is exactly what I need to be reading at this moment; and second – I will be referring back to this book often. It will become a permanent part of my power library. My coach often asks “when is NOW the right time?” when I seem to be stuck or need to make a change. This book so clearly explains the concept of “now” – it makes the question even more compelling. The answer, of course, is NOW – today – because it is all we have.
I know that I can’t begin to describe the concept as well as it is presented in the book (do take the time to read it if you are so moved). My basic take-away is this – I will only ever live today – now. I will never live tomorrow, or yesterday. Tomorrow will become today/now when I live it, and yesterday was today/now when I lived it. I’m sure it sounds simplistic, or maybe confusing – but it makes sense to me. Worrying about tomorrow serves no purpose – because what happens today is all that matters. Worry about future events won’t change them – it will simply add anxiety to today. Dwelling on something that happened yesterday (or in the past) also serves no purpose – it adds sadness and stress to today. Instead, I need to take the important lessons from the past when they happen, and let the rest go. This way, my “today” won’t be cluttered with junk.
I’m not saying that yesterdays don’t matter – but after playing around with this concept, I am learning that being present now/today is a way to create wonderful memories to hold and cherish. When I am busy being present now, I don’t have time to worry about what “might” happen, or be concerned with what happened in the past. This is NOW, my chance to apply what I have learned from other situations, and make this a day to remember.
Keeping my eyes on today, my heart and mind follow and focus on today. Choosing to fill the day with good and positive thoughts, instead of worry and fear is my choice – yours too, for that matter. In one sense, this is an over-simplification – it’s not as easy as it sounds, but perhaps it is just that easy. For me, it requires conscious effort not to fall back into old habits of dwelling on experiences from the past and dreading future experiences.
Getting back to my mat – Mia is right – everything I need is indeed on my mat. Me. Which means I need to trust myself, believe in myself, treat myself accordingly, love myself for who I am. The last part – love myself for who I am – takes a lot of guts just to say it. Are we not taught to care for others first? Put our needs after taking care of others? Yet, by taking care of ourselves first, we are far better caregivers for others. Able to love and tend to others without looking to them to fill our needs. We can enter and build relationships on what we are able to give, with little thought to what we need to get from the relationship. My mat is where God and I meet and have some serious together time. My “mat” has gone from a literal object to the space around me at any given moment. This whole thing is a work in progress, and I know that my eyes will stray. I also know that being able to recognize when this happens is the first step in bringing them back to where they need to be.
Eyes on my mat….where are your eyes?