A few months ago, I shared this poem by William Blake in class:
To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
and eternity in an hour.
One of my favorites to be sure; so you can imagine my delight when I heard a story by scientist Adam Frank discussing this very poem on NPR. What I love most about this story (you should really listen to it!) is that this is a scientist – the antithesis of a yoga teacher – basically encouraging us to develop our ability to witness.
The connection between the everyday reality we experience and boundless landscapes of cosmic beauty, inspiration and joy is actually so close, so present for us. It’s there in the dust on your car, the mess on your desk and the swirling water in your sink.
How do I know this? Because I am a scientist dammit and I know that Science — under all its theories equations, experiments and data — is really trying to teach us to see the sacred in the mundane and the profound in the prosaic.
The trick is in the noticing
As yogis, we work on and off the mat to notice, to witness. It starts with perhaps noticing your breath in a class or your emotional reaction to a specific pose. It moves deeper as you start to sit in meditation for a few minutes after practice. Not thinking, not NOT thinking, just noticing your thoughts. And then suddenly, you are that person. The person who stops and points out how stunning a landscape is, how colorful and vibrant that flower is, and instead of reacting to your boss’ craziness you actually see that craziness from his or her point of view. Reaction gives way to awareness. A relentless drive to be better in the future gives way to an appreciation for the present moment.
So as you step onto your mat this week, give yourself an extra breath in each pose. Take the time to notice the little details. How do your toes feel? What are your eyebrows doing? Is your tongue relaxed or tense? Practice noticing on the mat and then watch as it seeps into the everyday moments of your life. Allowing us to find more space, more gratitude, and maybe even more peace in our days.