“Yoga does not just change the way we see things, it transforms the person who sees.” ~B.K.S. Iyengar
I took notice that this New Year, 2020, is also the number we use to describe perfect vision. Perfect vision being the ability to see things in clear focus. But clarity of vision does not necessarily equate to clarity of view or understanding.
In yoga, we frequently discuss how our past experiences shape the way we see things. We come to understand that we don’t always see things the way they truly are. Much of the time it is because we are not fully present. We carry forward all that is in our past and layer by layer, we cloud our own vision. Our past experiences can carry information and create discernment for addressing future things, but the dilemma is that we live too much in the past and not enough in the present. If we are looking through the lens of the past, how can we expect to see clearly in the present? It’s similar to putting on prescription glasses that are not yours.
My daughter Sierra, is almost two now, and I am reminded every single day in watching her, that she sees the world very differently than I do. Yes in part she is learning and seeing things for the first time, but what I notice most is how present she is. She lives in the moment and engages life with open curiosity. What comes so naturally to a child seems to elude us as adults.
We have been conditioned to be very busy people – to do more and move faster. We are so busy that there is no space in our life to slow down, to connect, or pay attention. We void out the necessary space to be in the present moment because our minds are filled with thoughts about the past. We have become disconnected – our mind doing one thing and our body another. How then, do we think we can find clarity?
This is one reason we come to the mat. Yoga calls upon us to be fully present, with our body, mind, and spirit. When we pause to pay attention to our breath, notice every detail of our movement, and without thinking of our past, is when we can see clearly.
As our breath only occurs in the present, it is the perfect bridge to connect our consciousness to each moment. It takes practice, it takes remembering, but the more you practice it, the more it will become a habit. We will forget and then remember, forget and remember, but this is why Yoga is called a practice.
Our studio went through a big change right before this New Year. The past few months found me many times stuck in thoughts of the past or rushing to figure out the future. I experienced confusion around decisions I had to make and every time I heard myself say that I was struggling with clarity, it served as my reminder to come back to the present. It was only when I was able to arrive and be in the present, where I found any sense of clarity. It is also only when I am in the present moment, where I find strength, faith, openness, and a sense of peace of where this path will bring me in the future.
For each of us, may this New Year bring greater clarity as we awaken each day with the commitment to live in the present, to pause, and connect with ourselves and each other.
“We’re all just walking each other home.” ~Ram Dass