The calm after the storm

               The ocean has so much to offer us. Being in the Dominican Republic right after the hurricane and watching the water has taught me so many things in just 3 days. Previous visits have shown clear waters and hardly any surf. The sounds are typically quiet and soothing, nothing but the constant sea breeze. I often use the image of water to describe our chitta vritti, or fluctuations of the mind. The second yoga sutra reads: Yoga chitta vritti nerodaha, yoga is the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind. Imagine the mind as a body of water, at times it is still and quiet and within an instant it can become unruly and fierce. If we can keep our mind steady and clear then we have a chance to find peace and listen to the heart, this is yoga.

                Sometimes we are faced with forces beyond our control, like hurricanes, which come through with such force that the water is beyond tumultuous. The good news is we prepare for moments in our lives like this, stocking up on good vibes, nourishing ourselves and building strength (gathering family, buying canned goods, boarding up windows, etc). Survival instincts kick in and somehow we weather these storms no matter how difficult it may be, but it’s the aftermath that often haunts us the most. Our minds often run rampant replaying situations, wondering what could have been done differently and if things will ever be the same. These thoughts are like the currents of the ocean, pulling us in all different directions and rolling over each other, crashing onto the shores of the heart. There is debris everywhere, scars that will never fully go away and reminders that we are physical beings, bodies made of earth, fire, air and water.

                Luckily we still have the memories of that calm. Visualizing the clear blue water and soft sounds of the ocean breeze helps. Stillness will always return. All we can do is practice peace, create a state of being that makes us feel full. None of us are alone in this quest called life. In times when the mind is churning like a rough, wild sea seek love. Love for yourself, for those around you and for the universe beyond human comprehension. Love will find you if you are open to it, in the hardest of times and the darkest of days. Our chitta vritti oftens gets in the way… Yoga is here to help us maintain unity (and sanity!). Practice, love, practice love.

Even in the middle of a hurricane, the bottom of the sea is calm. As the storm rages and the winds howl, the waters sway in gentle rhythm, a light movement of fish and plant life. Below there is no storm.

-Wayne Muller