What do you do when life feels chaotic and you just want to run to the hills or hide in a faraway cave?
When I learned of the attacks in Brussels, I felt in me the familiar throb of wanting to escape, to run away, to find a place untouched by violence. I’ve been staying real close to this feeling and tending to it with lots of compassion and love. But, I recall a time when life wasn’t quite this easeful.
When I encountered Yoga Nidra, my life was highly stressful. I was overworked, sleep-deprived, constantly anxious, and in pain. Surprisingly, Yoga Nidra provided me with instant relief.
Sure, the pain didn’t go away immediately. And no, the anxiety still bubbled up frequently. But, after every single practice I felt recharged, alleviated, and lightened. Yoga Nidra made life tolerable. It made life endurable. It made me stick around in moments when all I wanted was to escape.
I attribute this to the original design of Yoga Nidra as a practice for being “in the city.” See, Yoga Nidra does not support removing yourself from the everyday happenings of life, shutting off the brain, or transcending into a state of bliss. Instead, it invites you to experience and notice life in the heart of chaos and dirt and noise and constantly rediscover your own aliveness amidst it all.
So yes, a terror attack feels like chaos. It is chaos. It is chaos right in the heart of the city. Other experiences, like an unpredictable presidential race, the loss of a loved one, or an illness, are equally chaotic.
So today, before another moment goes by, might you lend this chaos your ear? Might you tend with your attention to this desire in you to escape, to scream, to go wild? Might you notice all that is unfolding here, pulsating and throbbing with life, and allow it to point you back to your own aliveness? For you are alive. You are likely alive with sorrow and grief and pain and anger. And also excitement and joy and thrill. You are fully alive in the heart of the city.
Please join me for a private session in person or over phone/web or any of the upcoming events in which we will inquire together into the great mystery of life.
May you constantly rediscover your aliveness amidst the chaos of life,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Please share your thoughts, comments, or experiences with me below!
This past weekend, I had the pleasure and honor to share my very first Yoga Nidra meditation retreat. I had titled it "Cultivating Presence at the Edge of Winter". The latter part about the "Edge of Winter" was all true. Perfectly situated in the "Spring Forward" weekend, we were blessed with mild weather and the very first blooms of the season (more photos of the retreat at https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.741993615937573.1073741833.100003808232628&type=1&l=96c70de425).
The part I lied about was in regards to "Cultivating Presence." There's absolutely no way to cultivate presence. None! Despite what so many ads, articles, and cherished teachers tell us, we cannot be more or less present. Our presence cannot be enhanced or diminished because there is no quantity to presence. There is no limit to presence. There's no beginning or ending point. Presence just is.
Of course we're discussing language here. So it's important to point out that not every person that tells you to "be more present" is wrong. But the truth is that there’s nothing you need to do to be present. There’s no special meditation that gives you access to presence. There’s no formula of "x amount of yoga per week equals 100% presence". There’s absolutely no way to cultivate presence because you are always, already present. In fact, you are Presence itself.
So yes, I lied. I lied in calling this retreat "Cultivating Presence" and giving a false impression that you may improve, grow, or acquire presence somehow. Because you cannot. Presence is already whole and perfect and always here. So if I gave you the wrong impression, I am sorry.
But, as you may have expected, I would never set out to mislead you. And, as it happens, "cultivate" has another meaning, and it's to "make friends with." Like watching the blossoming of a flower, cultivating presence is nothing more than the noticing of what is already happening.
So, you see, I never really lied. My intention was always to offer a retreat in which you can settle into your already, always presence and make friends with it. How? The same way you would with a person, by welcoming it as it is, by listening, and by learning to love it for exactly what it is--your most precious and dear friend.
Please join me in any of the upcoming events as I continue to share a space in which to truly and truthfully cultivate presence and become your own best friend.
May you always experience your presence as a loving friendship,
-- Shira Oz-Sinai
Shira Oz-Sinai is a spiritual teacher trained in iRest® Yoga Nidra meditation and Soul Lightening Acupressure®, two modalities that share the common principle of noticing what arises in awareness as the foundation to living life with ease and in deep and loving friendship with yourself. These are her musings.