Try this on for size for a yoga mantra – “Arrive on the mat.” It is the same as “be here now.” It isn’t an intention or prayer. It is a reminder. It is like one that some teachers use – “return to the breath.”
It is so easy to get off center, off focus, off kilter, just off in general. It is so easy to get distracted and discombobulated. In those times we need to remember to return to our breathing because it will bring us back to ourselves.
We plan on one thing, and then another thing comes up. I hate it when I’m trying to do tree pose and the teacher keeps talking. I can have the most awesome “drishti” (focus point for my eyes) but the more she keeps chattering about how to keep my balance, the less balance I have. So maybe “drishti” isn’t about an external thing to look at. Maybe it isn’t about finding a spot on the floor or the wall to stare at. Maybe it is about finding that still, small, quiet place inside me that is calm and centered. Maybe it is about being at the eye of the storm, rather than in the storm.
The eye of the storm is right in the middle of everything, yet it is calm. That sounds good. Well, not being in the storm at all sounds better, but I’m not seeing a way to avoid that. Work, bills, family, chores, retirement plans, homework – there is a lot going on. We can’t just chuck it all and run away. Sometimes we do run away. We go on a vacation, but then when we come back everything has piled up just a little more.
Some people leave everything and become monks or nuns or hermits or hippies. Some people leave literally, some just leave mentally. There are many ways of leaving. You can be there but just not care because you’ve chemically altered yourself. I don’t want that. I did that for years. My problems didn’t go away, they just got fuzzier, and I just didn’t care about them as much. But nothing got better.
That is why I like the mantra of “arrive on the mat”. The mat is like an altar. It is a sacred space where I prepare myself. I shape myself into a calm, centered person. I shape myself into a vessel for the Spirit. I remind myself there that I must take care of this gift of my body, this house of my soul.
I want to be here, be present, be open to the opportunities that life offers. I don’t want to miss a thing. I want to observe but not obsess. I want to be there in the good and bad, in the rich and poor, in the better and worse, in living and in dying. Because to arrive on the mat is to be there, as you are, right then. Shaggy hair, ragged toenail polish, unwashed face, or clean and scrubbed and fed. Either way. There. In the moment. Let us begin.