During a recent retreat and training in Miami Beach with Strala Yoga, I participated in a progression of Tai Chi practice at sunrise on the beach. Michael Taylor, co-founder of Strala Yoga, guided us through a sequence of mindfully observing our patterns of gait and then Tai Chi practices for improving our quality of movement. With the Miami sunrise flooding the beach and wave waters encouraging our flow, we became more aware of not only our bodies in motion but also how they interacted with the beach environment. As I slowed my walking and relaxed my arms and legs, moving from the middle of my body with deep inhales initiating a forward direction, all kinds of things came into view.
First, I realized how much extra effort I unconsciously put into the simple act of walking! I had been “over-doing” from my back, shoulders and legs, wasting energy and building up unnecessary tension in my body. With a history of dancer injuries and a career in rehabilitation and wellness, discovering effective ways to bring ease and grace to movement is like bringing pearls up from the depths to the surface!
Second, the practice of simply slowing down tremendously helped me to appreciate the truth of what was happening. This purposeful listening gave my mind something active to do in the present moment, discovering all kinds of information that would otherwise have been overlooked. When the overwhelming distractions in life are placed on a temporary hold, we have the great benefit of focused attention. This art of listening fully has so much to offer us in the path of discovery and growth.
Finally, a life lesson exploded in my being as I noticed a pattern in my walk across the sandy beach. My body adapted to the variable surface of the sand progressively, and I could settle into the wavering mounds with each step I took. For a certain stretch of sand, I almost transitioned into a “routine”, relaxing and turning my gaze towards the water and sunrise. Then suddenly, there would come an abrupt change in the sand’s terrain, and I would resume the adaptation sequence. The teaching metaphor that sprung up to me compared this pattern to seasons of change in our own lives. We can be listening and “walking” along for a stretch of life, becoming comfortable in our routine, and then swiftly encounter a big change in our “terrain”. It happens to us all; the only certain thing is change is coming! The questions are: “How will we meet that change? Will we resist and kick and scream? Will we pretend the change is not real and bury our heads in the sand?” Or, “Will we already be in a posture of listening, receiving the change as new information and starting the adaptation that will bring us back into balance once again?”
One of my great loves is to explore movement and discover intriguing ways to connect mind, body and spirit into a synchronized moment. In these moments I feel the most whole. Reality seems larger and brighter, and I get to enjoy the meaningfulness of being that I always long for. Lessons like what I heard on the beach in Miami stick with me. I am so encouraged to embrace all of life that there is: the listening, growing, adapting, stretching and playful spirit available in it all.
Where are you seeing and noticing the meaningful things in your life? I know they are there! Maybe if you don’t see them at present, a little slowing down would bring them to light!