Inside Yoga 267 (29/4/2019)
I was recently watching a BBC TV programme called Race Across the World and one of the participant travellers commented, “There is magic out there (in this world), you just have to look up from your smart phone to see it…” This comment says so much about how we can improve the quality of our experience.
In this programme four teams (each of two) raced from London to Singapore overland via Europe and Asia with a fixed budget (they were given the cash equivalent of the cost of a flight from London to Singapore), so they had to budget and make ends meet; plus they were not allowed travel with phones (and any similar technology) nor travel with bank cards (just the cash they started with).
What I liked about the comment is that it reminded me of the years I spent on the road travelling (it was pre-smartphone era), and it was also a reminder to many of us old enough to remember a world without screens to stare at; but also, it is a warning to all of us young and old that now we do have these screens, we should check our habits, and in this case, it is probably correct to say that most of us do not look up from screens often enough! There is magic out there, look up and see it!
But this message is not just a criticism of our relationship with our smartphones it is a reminder to look around us, wherever we are in the world, including our home environment, and regain a sense of wonder in what is around us. There is magic everywhere if we just look: it might be the birds in our garden or the flowers in full spring bloom, or our kids playing happily, or our team winning a game for a change!
It does not take much to look up but we often forget to, or decide before looking that there is nothing to see. A closed mind does not help, but an open mind ready to see is better.
Meditation teachings are filled with references to looking up, to noticing, having an open receptive mind and appreciating everything around us, as if it is magical and wonderful, because then we are more likely to appreciate what it is we are looking at. We also will feel more connected to the world, wherever we might find us, and more appreciative of the simple things in life.
We are more likely to enjoy our day if we look up and see the magic out there and this can start at home or as soon as we step out the door. I frequently see the joy in my partner, who is a gardener, when she sees what the birds are doing in our garden or the beauty of the plants. Seeing such things can be all we need to help us feel better and more content with our day and life.
It is a meditation technique used to be present, in the here and now, filled with awareness of what is actually happening right now where we are. It might not be wonderful, it might not be pretty, I do concede this, but noticing and watching and looking at what is around us will help us feel more alive and connected.
And this message relates to how we practice yoga, because it is the training ground for our daily life, because when we are on our yoga mat we are training ourselves to look and notice what our body, breathing and mind are doing in every moment of our practice. In a way, we are looking up from our distracted thoughts to see the magic of our world.
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