Every now and again I read a quotation that stops me in my tracks. Yesterday, one came through on my BlackBerry as I was sifting through the chaos of my Monday morning.
There I was enjoying my morning almond milk latte, fighting off a sore throat, the fatigue of a weekend of driving kids in Vancouver traffic, still heavy in my body. I sat scribbling the week's commitment list, trying to make sense of the competing priorities for the week. Should I go to my daughter's parent information night, or my step-daughter's high school preparation meeting? Should I work on my new book, or finish a keynote presentation?
I started to feel the same feeling of being overwhelmed that had overtaken me in the IKEA parking lot on the weekend. After dropping off my 12-year-old with returns at the store entry, I circled for a full 15 minutes looking for a parking spot when all traffic came to a standstill while three cars ahead of me waited for another three cars to pull out. Another six minutes and I became frantic, screaming at the steering wheel of my car and cursing IKEA, parking lots and the absolutely overwhelming crowds of people in IKEA, in Science World where I had just come from with my daughter, and on the ferry where I was just going.
I hadn't lost it like this for several years, and I was shocked at the level of rage I could feel for my car and all things crowded and busy. I knew this was not about the parking lot, or IKEA, Science World or the stress of spending a weekend in a city I did not know with my GPS RECALCULATING, RECALCULATING each time I missed a turn. I didn't know what the problem was. I just knew I felt stressed, and harried, and a wee bit resentful. And then I read it:
"When you worry, there is static coming through your mind radio. God's song is the song of calmness. Nervousness is the static; calmness is the voice of God speaking to you through the radio of your soul." --- Paramahansa Yogananda
And in an instant I connected back to that calmness, that spiritual richness that is there for me anytime, anyplace, even in an IKEA parking lot, should I choose to reach for it. That peace, the strength, the calm, is accessible always, it is there, and I only have to open my heart to it. Suddenly it didn't seem so important when or what I did first, how fast I did it, or how perfectly I organized it.
In the gym, I was aware that there were six different televisions with six different channels competing for my attention as I worked out. As I write this blog, my messenger alert has appeared six times, my phone has rang twice, and a tiny honk alerting me to text messages has honked three times. Our digital age and fast-paced lives seem to conspire against any of us finding the calmness of the universe.
Perhaps that is why we see a revival of yoga in North America; a yoga mat swung over a shoulder is an everyday appearance on our city streets. I have been practicing for six years now, and if I ever do teach, I will call my class "Yoga For The Inflexible," but that is another subject all together. Yoga is about moving to get still, it is about breathing and it is about discovering. Discovering that inner chatter, discovering where the body is stuck, discovering where the breath stops moving. And in the silence of corpse pose I rediscover the peacefulness of just being, alone with my breath, connected to the creator, the energy that put me here and guides my life. I am grateful to be reminded that beneath the parking lots, the appliances that beep, beyond the Day-Timer I stare at without comprehending, there is the voice of calmness.