It was after the great-recession of 2008-2009. I’d seen a few recessions in what was at that time, my 20 year career as a financial advisor, but nothing like this. It seemed endless, 18 months of markets spiraling downwards and there was nowhere to hide, nowhere to go …. except to my cushion.
I didn’t come up with the idea all by myself, I had to ask for help. I needed something to manage my stress, the sleepless nights, the constant guilt that I could have done something differently to avoid the financial distress my clients were experiencing.
After attending a yoga retreat and consulting with an ayurvedic doctor, I was told I should try to meditate every day, preferably in the evening. That’s when I got my cushion and put it where I could be alone, alone long enough to meditate at least 20 minutes.
It’s been more than 10 years since I started sitting regularly on my cushion. Sometimes I just sit for a few minutes before I go to bed, most times I sit for longer; even in the middle of the night. I close my eyes, focus on my breath and see the chatter of my monkey mind. I acknowledge my thoughts and my emotions and then give them up, so that I can find peace.
We are now in a unique time of forced self-isolation, for an extended period. We can use this time to find a cushion and a corner, where we can close our eyes and meet our thoughts. Just a few minutes, every day, can make a big difference. You might be surprised by what you hear and see, when you close your eyes. Keep coming back to the breath, let your thoughts pass. If you do this regularly, you will learn to recognize the clutter of the mind and go beyond your thoughts, even if it’s just for a few moments. In these moments of quiet isolation, a spaciousness of mind can open up that is comforting.
When our world is turned upside down, we need to be grounded in ourselves. To do that, we have to sit with our thoughts and our fears. The cushion is a great way to start!