MINDFULNESS & YOGA
I spoke to a guest recently.
She had diligently worked hard to gain control, after many disappointments and losses earlier in her life. When she and her husband were married, they struggled with infertility and were unable to have children.
Over the ensuing years she had gained considerable weight, trying every diet available to lose the excess pounds, and also lived with asthma. Over the course of a few years, she worked on all these challenges. She quit all diets, and started to walk until she could do four hours a day on her treadmill, she and her husband worked in their garden at the end of their work days, and made sure to have over many friends on weekends. She managed to lose the extra weight permanently, her asthma became less problematic, and they had a happy and full life.
Then, last year, her husband was diagnosed with lung cancer. She let go of what she had done before as she spent all of her time helping him through this ordeal. After a daunting course of chemotherapy and radiation therapy, they were told that the cancer will come back again and it is only a question of time before it will eventually take his life. My guest was in trouble. She had gained a lot of the weight back, her asthma had returned, and she had been sleeping very poorly. She did not know how to get back her earlier self, the one who had the confidence and the assertion of will to grab her world by the horns and force it into her control.
Her story is not unique, many of us have it happen to us. We do well, and then something spins us out of that orbit.
How can we find a way back? How can we find that spark that will give us the energy, inspiration, and hope to gain back what was lost?
COMBINE MINDFULNESS WITH YOGA
Mindfulness is the art of not ignoring distracting thoughts, sensations, or physical discomfort, but focusing on them and whatever else is also going on with one at the moment. In this way, looking at our tensions, stress, pain, fear, disappointment, sadness, and accepting them, even welcoming them alongside the good things, we can start to integrate our own full self in the current reality and gain back the focus to correct the course back into the earlier healthy orbit.
Yoga promotes musculoskeletal strength, balance and flexibility, and helps with the inner stillness so important in mindfulness. If done well, it both energizes and relaxes. If one does yoga and practices mindfulness, the mind and body become capable of profound relaxation, gaining deep perspectives, and new ways of coping with the imbalance of one’s life. There is growing evidence that this practice alleviates symptoms of physical illness such as gastritis and even severe heart disease.
In the practice of mindfulness combined with yoga, we learn that we are not our thoughts, but rather we are an entity with present moment awareness that observes the thoughts and feelings of our mind and views these as things that are, but that are not “us”. We learn how to still our mind, and in doing so, we learn who we really are. We gain a perspective in the landscape of not only ourselves, but the landscape beyond us.
We get back our ability to start afresh, no longer clouded by the inertia and entropy of what happened to us in the past. As Hunter S. Thompson (an American journalist who founded the Gonzo journalism movement) said so beautifully:
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather it should be to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out and with a huge smile, loudly proclaiming ‘Wow! What a Ride!”
I encourage each of our guests to start practising mindfulness with regular yoga, so you can take your life by the horns, force it on its knees, and jump on its back for an even better ride than you can imagine.
About Dr. Pieter Strauss:
Dr. Strauss was born in South Africa, emigrating to Canada with his family in 1995. He has a private practice in the Fraser Valley and sees patients with mental health issues in his community. He was Head of the Psychiatry Department at a regional hospital with a staff of nine psychiatrists until last year when he decided to focus on his practice and his work at our hotel. Dr. Strauss has always been interested in long-term human relationships and envisioned enhancing relationships.