Momentary Inquiry


Under the Aqueduct, Kyoto

“Imagine if before every action we initiated, we took a breath.”Katie Silcox
“In the pause, there should always be inquiry. How are we feeling? What are we feeling?”Tias Little

In the last few months I’ve had the privilege to attend quite a few yoga workshops, and just this weekend, I began to connect the dots between two of them when talking with a friend about the trials and tribulations of life.

In both of the scenarios where I took these quotes, we were in the middle of asana practice. They are perfect examples of taking what you are doing on the mat and translating to the world beyond the mat (e.g. our daily life). “Imagine if before every action we initiated, we took a breath.” We were working with parenthetic breathing, starting our inhales/exhales before movement, and ending our in/exhales after we had finished the movement. The beyond the mat lesson was imagine if before every reaction, before every interaction, we took a moment to take a breath. Would it change how we act, what we say, what we do? Would we perhaps find empathy in that moment, or be more careful in choosing our words?

“In the pause, there should always be inquiry.” I’ve already talked about this in asana practice, my preferred pause is to intersperse corpse pose between my asanas to listen to my body. In Tias’s workshop we also did this, in addition using the hold of the asana or the in-between movements to inquire what was happening in our body.

Then, this weekend, came the friendly discussion about how our past influences our present, whether or not we think past events were a huge deal. Childhood issues bubble back up, patterns from old relationships continue as patterns in new relationships. We constantly react based on our conditioning from the past. It’s when I made this connection, of something I’ve unconsciously experienced in the past couple of years, but now there’s words and ideas around this experience, and something I can consciously bring into my life.

What if before every action/reaction/interaction, I took a moment to take a breath? And in that moment, that pause, I asked myself, “What am I feeling?” Are muscles tensing that tense when I’m angry, hurt, afraid? Do I feel the lightheaded rush I feel when I feel anxiety? Is there anything going on, albeit very subtly, in my body that is telling me my reaction to this current experience is tinged with the past. In that moment, can I pivot away from that reaction if it is negative? On the flip side, if I’m feeling joyous, happy, content, can I relish in that fact for a moment, and realize the positivity, gratitude, radiance that is happening around me? If I approach my world in this way, will my world be a better place? Will someone else’s be a better place?

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