Being a Name
By Laura Mills
“Mommy, where’s a person’s name?”
I looked at my daughter, confused. “What do you mean?”
“I mean…is it in my head? Is it in my body somewhere? Where can I find my name?”
Finally understanding the question—and amazed at this rather profound thought of my four-year-old—I answered: “Well, your name isn’t a thing that’s inside you. Like if I looked in your mouth, I wouldn’t see anything with your name on it.” I considered. “I suppose your name is a thought in your mind, because when you see it on paper or hear someone say it, you know it’s you.”
She seemed satisfied with this answer…but I wasn’t. Where’s a person’s name? Where’s a person’s identity? Where is the part of me, for example, that differentiates me from the next person…the next woman, the next mom, the next yoga teacher? Where inside my being is that which makes me unique? Sure, I could list the ways I’m physically unique, or the ways my parenting or teaching style or anything else differs from the next person’s. But compiling a list of attributes isn’t the same as determining where those attributes exist in my being. I’ve seen maps of the human brain with various areas of control highlighted, but even that doesn’t get at the question’s real core. The smallest brain cell—the smallest particle of a brain cell—the smallest particle of a particle of a brain cell; somewhere between all that physical matter and space and electricity is me.
No, I’m not satisfied with the answer I gave my daughter that day. But I think I’m getting closer to an answer that’s more the truth. My being is in the breath that I focus on when I close my eyes and inhale/exhale. And it’s in the synching of my breath and body when I practice on my mat. And it’s in the vibration within me at the end of my practice as I settle into Savasana. I don’t at present have better words to describe it…but I know I’ve caught glimpses of my being in these places, at these moments. I’m on the right track, and I’m hopeful that someday I’ll know just how to explain it….
By Laura Mills
If there’s one lesson I’ve had hammered into my brain in the last few years, it’s that almost nothing in this world is one-hundred-percent certain. Even with the best-laid plans and the most-organized calendars—even with the most-sincere promises—almost nothing is absolutely guaranteed. Life’s unreliability is what brought me to yoga in the first place; if everything up to that point had worked out as planned, I wouldn’t have sought physical and emotional healing in the first place. It was strange irony that what brought me down led me directly onto the mat that raised me up….
….BECAUSE, it was on the mat that I discovered the one thing in this world that IS one-hundred-percent certain. I discovered the one thing in which I can place my trust without fear or even thought of disappointment: my breath. As long as I’m alive, an exhale will follow each inhale, and an inhale will follow each exhale. There may be more or less time in-between depending on what I’m doing—whether I’m practicing vigorous Vinyasa or restorative yoga, for example, or whether I’m sleeping or running—but the pattern of inhale-exhale-inhale-exhale will never change.
As yogis, as a rule, we are taught the importance of the breath. It’s what moves prana, or life energy, through the body, but it is also so much more. It’s the sweet certainty on which I can focus when all else seems up-in-the-air and unstable. It’s the one thing I can keep with me no matter where I go, what I do, or what I plan…or hope…or fear…. It’s the foundation on which I can re-build whatever needs rebuilding, one inhale, one exhale at a time.
The Truth About Time
By Laura Mills
I admit it: I’m in denial. It should not, cannot possibly be mid-January already. Wasn’t it just Christmas? Some of my decorations are still up. And did I seriously just hear a commercial about taxes? What about my to-do items leftover from 2014…organizing the claim for my car repairs, balancing my checkbook, getting the carpets cleaned, filing away those miscellaneous papers? I refuse, absolutely, to believe we’re halfway through January already….
But I’ve said it before, and I know it to be true now: the calendar on my desk (and the one on my computer, and the one on my phone) doesn’t lie. It is mid-January. And I am overwhelmed. This isn’t a new feeling; actually, I’ve felt overwhelmed with things to do quite often before. After all, the harsh reality of time is that it’s finite—as I’ve been trying to teach my four-year-old lately, we only have so much time and we must make choices as to how we use it (as in, “…you can’t watch TV and play Elsa/Anna and also take your bath all before bedtime.”). I do try to prioritize and focus on what needs to be done NOW at any given moment, but I can only sustain that directed purposefulness so long before my overwhelm returns.
Thankfully, a remedy does exist. Not the kind of remedy that will clean my house, file my papers and pay my bills for me, but rather a remedy that brings me away from overwhelm into peace in spite of my lingering un-accomplished tasks. It’s my memory. I remember I’m a competent, strong person on an incredible journey; I remember that the journey will go on even if I don’t accomplish everything on time; and I remember that while the journey is messy and unpredictable, I always have my breath and my heart to guide me. In fact, to my breath and my heart, time is irrelevant—no matter what’s going on at any given moment I can always breathe, I can always love.
And most of the time, no matter what the calendar says, that’s really only all I need.