“Mommy, let’s make today the best day ever!”, he said. “No. Wait. I have an even better idea… Mommy, let’s make every day the best day ever.”
We were driving from my apartment to give a “porch hello” to the kids’ grandparents. When I asked my six-year-old son how every day could be the best day, he explained, “Well, it doesn’t really have to be the best day EVER ever. It just has to be the best day…. On THIS day. Then every day can be the best one!”
Even though I felt moved by son’s words, my ego felt squeezed by the innocent wisdom of his comment. Obviously, sometimes we have bad days, weeks, months, even years; and we don’t want to try to make them otherwise. Yet, even during challenging times, there is a range of reactions we can have to our circumstances. A regular practice of grounding Yoga asana and meditation is accessible way to bring our minds, hearts and bodies back to a place of peace and inner control when things feel out of control around us.
In her book, Start Where You Are, Pema Chodron describes the ego, not as something evil or as our enemy, but rather as our “original soft spot” which we try to protect by grasping onto things that feel good in our most vulnerable places. She describes the ego in neutral, “life affirming” words toward the self and all of our parts, and that when we begin gently to open the door and allow experiences to touch the soft spots of our egos, we can begin to feel more grounded and at home in each experience no matter what it is. Overcoming our fear and surrendering our need to grasp control we choose instead to live fully in each moment of reality whether it’s drinking tea, taking a walk, or waiting in line.
As I journeyed through her uplifting book, and the mediations it inspired, I began to realize how important it is to maintain this mindset during times when we seem to have no choice, we still have one choice left - to live in each moment - even when we have no idea what the future will hold.
When I feel myself grasping too tightly to the past, reaching too far into the future, or allowing my need to be in control to control me, I turn toward simple grounding poses. Practicing Hatha Yoga to physically root our bodies in the present moment in all it's vulnerability. Presence can be uncomfortable but it can also free us of trying to control the future, and being aware of the present moment gives us the possibility to make each day the best day ever. After all, today is the only day we really have.
Here is one of my favorite simple grounding Hatha sequences to practice my ability to get closer to the present moment when worry has swept me away:
Balasana (child’s pose)
Parighasana (gate pose)
Sasangasana (rabbit pose)
Ustrasana (camel pose)
Virabhadrasana 1 (warrior 1)
Virabhadrasana 2 (warrior 2)
Balasana (child's pose)
Savasana (corpse pose)
Hold each pose for 10 or more deep breaths.
As I move through these poses (or modified versions of them), I picture myself feeling grounded in child’s pose; then reaching out all around me into past, present and future, briefly touching each person, place and experience and then letting them go; to return to child’s pose, ready to be held by the present and able to give and receive in it.
Chodron, P. (2018). Start Were You Are. Boulder, Co. Shambhala Publications.