Editor’s Note: Today I have the pleasure to post an excerpt from the 2004 publication of one of my biggest heroes: the “Russian Yiddishe Yogini”, Author, Performer and Dear Friend, the amazing Mina Semyon. On a recent phone call she gave me her blessing to share portions of her books with our HelloYogaWorld readers through our blog. Mina has been teaching yoga for over 30 years. Her recent memoir You Don’t Have to Die of Disappointment…but you can always die laughing is a whirlwind tour through an early life of pain and tragedy transformed by self-acceptance and forgiveness, decades of conscious work, and the sense of humor which has endeared Mina to so many over the years. I encourage you to buy and read her books using the links below this excerpt. This post is from her book The Distracted Centipede – A Yoga Experience. ~ Tad Frizzell
If you live in the past, the best part of you is underground, like a root vegetable!
In order to live in the present we have to understand, accept and let go of the pain connected with the past. This is not a matter of obsessively digging into the past. Just by paying attention to the present we can become aware of how the past still lives on in the memory of our muscles, nerves and cells, coursing through the blood, preventing us from living life to our full potential now.
In the practice of Yoga we always have to start from the beginning.
Whether we’ve been practicing for a long time or have only just started, it is always a matter of connecting to where we are at this present moment mentally, emotionally, and physically and starting from there.
The practice of Yoga is an open invitation to the present moment. The present moment is always here to return to, however far we’ve wandered off. It is closer to us than our breath. Like the sun penetrating through the clouds, so we too can penetrate through all the noise and restlessness in the mind-body to stillness.
“Nothing in all creation is so like God as Stillness”Meister Eckhart
The body doesn’t need our interference; it is a unified system to which we can surrender if we let go of holding on for dear life.
The spine will release upwards if we let go of holding on for dear life. The spine will release upwards if we let it because that is how it is meant to be…upright, not uptight, grounded in the base and releasing upwards.
But if we are not in touch with this two-way movement then it’s an effort to keep the body up, because it’s in conflict, fighting against the natural forces. To be in touch with the Divine is also about being in touch with the forces that govern the body. Every tree, every animal knows it. Only human beings are capable of perverting it, imposing a false balance, a twisted security. So we need to return, to get in touch with our innate balance again and again, not as an idea but as a real life experience in the body. This is what I feel passionate about and is my book’s special message.
Yoga practiced with mindfulness of breathing can help us become aware of and look deeper into how we get distracted. It can help us to keep on returning to awareness and presence.
This book is about how I got to ‘here’ from ‘there’. ‘Here’ is where I got smart–figured out that the present moment is where guilt and blame, pride and shame, fear and hate have no breeding ground–the only place where the buggers can’t get you! ‘There’ is where I lay, ‘Distracted in a ditch, considering how to live’ , in the grip of early painful memories–from which there seemed to be no escape. The best definition of meditation I’ve come across is:
‘Meditation means to live without being distracted’
Learn more about Mina Semyon on her official website.