Awesome mindfulness

The really hard thing about mindfulness, moment to moment non-judgmental awareness, is in overcoming the over-familiar, not going on auto-pilot and missing half the story because it’s so obvious it doesn’t seem worth noticing. Changing some aspect, creating a different background, shakes things up and helps you notice more. I feel this in yoga asana: putting the body into different shapes and different movements creates more possibilities for awareness of the body and the breath.

imageEveryday mindfulness is currently an interesting proposition, since I’m in a different country, a different ecology, and a different culture. Suddenly I’m hyperaware of so many things and the reactions to and perceptions of them that I am having. It’s like being a child again when I want to stop and point at everything, make a comment on it and ask a couple dozen questions about everything I see! I think I’m asking as many questions as my seven year old nephew. Why are American toilets such a different shape to European ones? Why does all bread taste sweet here? Look at that chicken trying to cross the road! What type of trees are those? And those flowers? Do you know the name of that constellation? Why are there quite so many missionary churches? What’s shave ice? Why do so many women dress as though they’re on their way to a yoga class all the time?…. And so on…

imageThe word ‘awesome’ has been much used on this trip. Partly this is because of its popularity in Australian and North American English — the dialects of Hubby’s family. But I use it a lot too. My brother-in-law keeps teasing me, hearing it sound strangely in my accent. “Is it really ‘awesome’?” he asks, mocking my English pronunciation. Well, yes, lots of things are awesome, they provoke a sense of awe and wonder and often joy too. It’s partly the fresh perspective the new environment offers, but it’s also just the yoga effect in action again. Yoga brings greater awareness, but also greater appreciation, of what is and what might be, and of the small part I have in this amazing world. On the mat I often find this awareness so acute and vivid as to be overwhelming: it frequently reduces me to tears with a strong emotional reaction I can’t quite define. Off the mat it’s less intense and easier to flow along with, enjoying the awesomeness of being in the world. Definitions and explanations eventually fade into irrelevance.

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