In Jon Kabatt-Zinn’s 2011 talk at Oslo University, he describes mindfulness as awareness to the present moment without judgement. He believes that mindfulness is a way of being (Kabat-Zinn, 2011). Most of us live our lives, however, searching for something transient to fulfill our deepest needs (Swamini Shraddhananda Saraswati, 2021). Swamini Shraddhananda Saraswati, Ji asked us in the meditation lecture on October 5, 2021, if we ourselves are incomplete, can we create something complete? Our yoga practice, and our meditation practices, invites us to become whole within ourselves, to be present. It is in this presence that we can be whole and complete for our students and be available for them.
Meditation teacher and author, Tara Brach, believes that mindfulness and hope are interrelated. “Our path to freedom is presence” (Brach, 2021). She says that presence links us to possibility (Brach, 2021). One way to achieve this and cultivate hope, is to have a gratitude practice that is done daily (Brach, 2021). Part of this practice is to relinquish control. For those who have survived trauma, releasing control is a hard-fought battle. The illusion of control is sometimes felt as the only way to keep moving forward. However, meditation holds the space for being aware and sitting in this awareness allows the sitter to organically become the observer opposed to the doer. Through this mindfulness practice, the survivor finds a path to freedom. Presence provides us the opportunity to be aware of what is not only being spoken, but what we ourselves are about to say. It is an invitation to work on non-violent speech.
Swamini Shraddhananda Saraswat Ji says that mindfulness teaches us “The importance of not building your house on sand” (Swamini Shraddhananda Saraswati, 2021). Our personal practice as creates a strong foundation, one that we can continue to build upon, dance upon. Eventually, once the foundation is stable and secure, practiced, it will become fully integrated (Swamini Shraddhananda Saraswati, 2021). It is then that we will be whole and complete. It is then that we will be yoga students and teachers that can walk into the world with gratitude, hope, and at ease, holding space for each other. This is how change happens. This is the space where healing begins.
Brach, Tara (2021). The Power of Spiritual Hope, with Tara Brach [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqyNNx56NCg&ab_channel=TaraBrach
Kabat-Zinn, Jon (2011). Mindfullness: An introduction [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JBWWg7qDbGI&ab_channel=GeorgeKalarritis%2CClinicalPsychologist
Kabat-Zinn, Jon (1994). Wherever You Go There You Are. Hyperion Books.
Swamini Shraddhananda Saraswati. (2021). Lecture on TYT105 Meditation. Personal Collection of Swamini Shraddhananda Saraswati, Kula Kamala Foundation and Yoga Ashram, Reading, PA.