“We’re moving into plank.”
I’ve never been a fan of the plank. The minute my yoga teacher, Johanna McClain, says those words, “we’re moving into plank,” my mind and body freeze with a preconceived notion that it’s going to be hard - body stretched flat like a plank, arms strong, abs, and core stitched tight. Breathe.
But, after many months of practicing yoga and meditation consistently, an interesting thing happened. A click.
Recently, we were in a sequence of flowing between the plank and downward dog, back and forth, plank and downward dog, moving with the breath, plank, down dog. My mind and body started down the same pattern of oh-no-this-is-going-to-be-hard, when Johanna said, “find the place between effort and ease.” and something clicked. It wasn't the first time she used the phrase, but it was the first time it clicked into my mind and then my body.
Find the place between effort and ease. I swear I floated, it became effortless ease. As soon as my mind stopped fighting, things fell into that space.
It got me thinking about incorporating that same shift into everything, about working, writing, relating, and living in that place, the space between effort and ease. To my way of thinking it’s the perfect definition of balance.
The next day, in meditation, the guide said, “Be kind to your mind.” A direction that caused my mind to exhale, if that’s possible. It felt possible.
We overload our minds, we pack a lot in there and have high expectations for what our minds can hold. And, our minds also need that balance, the place between effort and ease, mind kindness, to function best.
And, we are the ones in control of our minds, which at times we forget. What a profound honor and responsibility that is, to mine our own minds. To be kind to our mind.
It got me noodling about what that means, to be kind to your mind:
Where is your attention? - notice where your attention is directed. You are your attention owner. No person or thing gets your mind's attention unless you give it to them.
Create thought boundaries - just like personal boundaries, we can set boundaries around the thoughts we allow in our mind field. A negative or judgmental thought can be asked to leave. A positive or loving thought can be invited to enter. When a thought comes in that makes us feel bad or causes discord, ask the question: Is this thought for my best and highest good? If it’s not, the question becomes: what is a better and higher thought?
Quiet and rest - the mind gets tired just like the body. Pull back from screens for a while. Meditate. Sleep.
Food for thought - read and write nourishing words. Listen to beautiful music.
Roam Freely - it’s healthy to allow your thoughts to roam freely, imagination at play. Research shows this leads to relaxation and exploring fresh ideas.
One of the most useful tools that I've used over and over again this past year is to ask: what will give me ease right now? It nourishes the spirit, breathes the body, and yes, is kind to the mind.