Mindfulness has always been something important to me, in one way or another. Usually, art and creativity have been my way of being mindful – my form of meditation. In the first few years after Drew’s death, I created deeply mindful photographs which helped me reach that meditative space. I don’t think I knew it at the time, but they created a spiritual connection for me. A deeply focused time of flow where nothing else but the present moment existed. In fact, the first few years after his death were some of the most deeply spiritual years in my life.
I think I lost that when I moved to Ohio, without really realizing it, and I’ve been trying to re-establish it ever since. I was so busy just trying to figure out this new life in a new place, that I got completely derailed from any deeper internal/spiritual connection. Photography was no longer working the same way for me. Being in a new and unfamiliar place made it too hard to connect into that flow with my camera. I’ve had trouble finding using any other creative stuff to get that connection for long either. So, I’ve felt lost and not even sure exactly why until recently. Not knowing what wasn’t working. Not knowing what was missing. But knowing something was indeed missing…
And then last month, a light came on inside me. It came in the form of a random, free yoga class I took while on my trip to Arizona. As we moved through poses and breathing exercises, something began to wake up in me. A familiar feeling of flow… only not one I’d ever had in a yoga class. It was the feeling of flow I’d experienced behind the camera. A totally different activity, but the feeling, the deep connection, was there just the same.
I knew instantly that I had to bring this into my everyday life when I came home. I didn’t even know why, I just knew that I need to.
It’s been roughly a month now and I have done yoga almost every single morning since that first class. I would like to note, I’m about the least flexible person you will ever meet. And I’m horribly out of shape and haven’t worked out in any way for several years now. I have to be careful with my back, because it gets tweaked easily now that my back muscles aren’t strong like they used to be. I’ve never even really done yoga before, save for a handful of times 3 or 4 years ago. In fact, I used to be one of those people who thought it was pretty much a waste of time. But now, I am working to stretch and grow myself each morning, a little at a time. I am showing up for mindfulness and a sense of flow in my body and breath, and the metaphor it seems is flowing into all the rest of my life too.
I think for a long time now, I have been trying to force that mindfulness to come to me through the camera lens. Or at least in something artistic. I think that I’ve not realized, maybe it could come back to me in a different way, through a daily act that isn’t artistic at all. It has me wondering, how many more ways are there for all of us to find that mindfulness each day? How many other kinds of practices could give each of us a renewed sense of connection to ourselves, to others, to something greater perhaps? And what are the ways that others out there are finding this that I don’t even know of?
Already I am noticing, if I don’t do yoga for a few days, there is a build-up of tension… just the everyday life stuff. I start to feel disconnected and frustrated more easily. Which is just the same as if I don’t do anything creative for a few weeks. On the days I do yoga though, my mind is wiped clean, my soul has time to breath, and I have a deeper connection with myself. It carries into everything else in my day. It makes me feel kinder and more connected to myself and others. I’m finding I have more energy to deal with my stress in more positive ways. I’m even finding myself with a bit more creative energy too.
Mostly, I do Youtube-guided yoga in my living room. Going to classes weekly would be too pricey, so I am finding a different way that works for me. Twenty minutes, each morning before breakfast, I put every single other thing aside, and I spend this time with my body and my soul. I breathe, I connect, and I focus on filling myself up with loving energy for the day. I do the poses the best I can with my insanely inflexible body, and spend that time loving my tendons and muscles exactly as they are.
I wouldn’t have believed it if you’d told me, that something so simple and so outside of my normal way of doing things could be so impactful to my overall happiness and sense of connection to myself and the world. That something so easy could help me to begin to finally find me again. And to realize that I never really lost myself at all, she has been there all along, and it just took trying a new way to connect with her to see her again.