Please, for Heaven’s sakes, just get this slightly overweight late-thirties monkey-minded male to Shavasana.
I love final Shavasana. My teacher is done beating me up for the day—in a good way—and there’s a chance I’m going to get a cold towel on my forehead and maybe even a foot rub. But more importantly, my final Shavasana is when I’m connected to what’s important. It’s when I’ve shed all the non-sense running around in my monkey mind, and I’m left with the stuff that matters. If I’m lucky, my wife is next to me in class, and during Shavasana, she reaches out and holds my hand, literally connecting me to what matters most. I’m not sure there is anything more wonderful in my world than those moments.
My monkey mind is a fireworks display, not like a 4th of July backyard show with kids running around, sparklers in hand, and dad shooting a five dollar rocket for the finale. My monkey mind is the fireworks show on New Year’s Eve at the turn of the century at Disney World, firework after firework bursting every millisecond, barely a moment of silence, a rainbow of color and sound, a massive eruption of thought that is nearly uncontrollable. And yet… yoga can control it. Eckart Tolle talks about the silent watcher in his book The Power of Now. It’s generally about ten minutes into class when I’m trying to balance my somewhat not svelte figure on one leg that I start to disconnect my actual self from my thinking mind. Like a silent watcher, I start to see how incredibly active my monkey mind, a.k.a. left brain, is. And as I watch these thoughts, I see how absurd they are.
I just missed being a millennial by a year, but I can multi-task with the best of them. I can be thinking about an email I forgot to send while worrying about my job security and when I’m going to get a raise while also texting three people and checking Facebook and Instagram while also thinking about whether we fed the sheep or pruned the vines or why my son keeps yelling at me, “You make me mad!” while also regretting the veggie burger and fries and beer I had the night before. I can do all that while coming up with a character for my next book while worrying about my beat up truck and whether she’ll make it another winter; all this while analyzing the new Chili Peppers’ album and also worrying about a friend who is in a relationship I don’t agree with and ALSO wondering if I’m really doing what I should be doing with my life while ALSO running through my to-do list, which I have had to break up into different theme and priority sections because I’ve taken so much on. I have one for work, one for writing, one for general life, and one for our farm, and then they are broken up into high, medium, and low priority. (I can’t believe I’m telling you this; it sounds like I have severe OCD.) I can do all of the above while running through my high priority lists, thinking about what states are not buying enough wine (I sell wine for a living) while also thinking about when we need to move the sheep to another patch of grass while also worrying about changing my A/C filters AND working on refinancing our house and… okay, you get it. ALL AT THE EXACT SAME TIME! Take that you millennials!
Welcome to my monkey mind. It’s exhausting. Trust me, I’m in it. And most of it just doesn’t matter. It’s mind chatter that I don’t need, getting in the way of what’s really important. Getting in the way of the present moment. Sure, I need to get these things done, but I don’t need it all clogging up my precious and limited brain capacity at all waking moments. Yoga is just about the only thing—the only healthy thing (did I mention I’m in the wine business?)—that can control my monkey mind. And by the time I hit Shavasana, I pretty much have the monkey on a leash obeying my commands.
So what matters? As I’m lying on my mat holding my wife’s hand at the end of class, I feel like someone has cleaned the dirt off the lens through which I see life, and I see in sharp focus what matters. Here’s a hint: nothing on all those to-do lists matter. What I find important after a yoga session can pretty much can be summed up by one word: love. I feel love for myself, and with this love, I am reminded and encouraged to make sure I’m living every moment as if it was my last. And then I feel love extended to my wife and son and friends and family and fellow practicers and even the people I don’t know. And this feeling makes me want to be a better person and love harder and do my best to make the world a better place.
That’s what yoga is to me. My mat is my church; my teachers are my preachers. It doesn’t matter if I’m in a Gold’s Gym in eastern Washington or Michael Franti’s studio in Bali. When I hit the mat, I reconnect with the universe.
So like I said, please get me to Shavasana.