I’m just resurfacing from observing silence for the last 24 hours (this was part of my pratyahara homework for my yoga teacher training). That meant, no talking, emailing, Facebooking, TV watching, reading, writing–nada. I didn’t interact with my family. I didn’t even listen to music. I basically went inward and spent some quality time with me, myself, and I (queue the De La Soul!). Funny thing, once alone with my thoughts, I seemed to go on a musical tour of songs that reminded me of being alone, from Billie Holiday’s Solitude to the Geto Boy’s My Minds Playing Tricks on Me. While Scarface’s lyric “I sit alone in my four corner room staring at candles…” was somewhat appropriate, my time of solitude was a much more positive experience than it might have been if I was doing this, say, 5-10 years ago. It was a much needed pause for me. I was able to slow down and pay attention to myself–mind and body. I spent time washing and conditioning my hair, giving love and care to each strand. I massaged my sore feet with this wonderful lavender mint salve my sistafriend, Tanya, sent me from a local farm in San Antonio, TX. I cooked and savored every bite of vegan spinach ravioli with sauteed fresh tomatoes, garlic, basil, and red peppers. I enjoyed some quality time, alone. One of the reasons that I did not instantly gravitate toward yoga and meditation in my younger days was because I did not like being alone with myself or with my thoughts. I was constantly seeking connection with others, and approval from others. When alone, I only had me, myself, and I. And, what if I wasn’t enough?
One of the things I look forward to each time I drink tea is reading the little affirmations on the labels. It’s just as exciting for me as reading my fortune from a fortune cookie. So, last night, as I was drinking my Yogi Bedtime tea, I decided that I would meditate on whatever affirmation I received. It read, “I am beautiful, I am bountiful, I am blissful.” Okay, I am, I thought. Then, my mind starting wandering, and I was replaying the scene from the movie, The Help, when actress Viola Davis, who is playing the Black female “help”, affirms the self-image and self-esteem of the little White girl that she cares for, telling her, “you is kind, you is smart, you is important.” So, as you might imagine, this wandering went all kind of wrong for me. Trying to stay mindful, I worked hard to stay focused on the Yogi tea affirmation. What did it mean for me in that moment? I reflected on how being in my solitude was a welcoming experience for me because I enjoy being me. I am at a place in my life where I finally understand that I am enough. I am all of those things that my Yogi tea affirmed–I am beautiful in and out; I am blessed and have many gifts to share; and I am peacefully satisfied with life. Needing someone else to affirm that for you is a dangerous place to be in–you’re vulnerable, you’re weak, and you’re lonely. That is quite different than embracing a space of solitude that you choose and because you look forward to your own company.
This morning, the affirmation on the label of my morning tea, Traditional Medicinals Organic Peppermint Tea, read, “be heard.” I didn’t really know what to take from this since my 24 hours of silence wouldn’t end for another 6 hours or so. And, generally, I don’t have real issues letting my voice be heard. So, I shifted my meditation to this morning affirmation, and after a little while, I realized that the “being heard” isn’t as much about making sure others hear me as it is about me listening to my inner voice. I needed to stop and pay attention to my own voice. If I truly believe that I am enough, then I am worth pausing to listen to my own thoughts. Cultivating an intuitive spirit only happens when I slow down and clear my mind space. Listening inward is also important because it forces me to focus on my body. I observe my breathing, I pay attention to my heartbeat. I need to understand what it feels like to be in this body so that I am aware of how it changes and evolves.
I learned a lot in the past 24 hours–one, I think musically; two, I am confident in who I am and know that I am enough; three, I need to listen inward; and four, it’s good for me to slow down every now and again. I plan to deplug and turn off my phone (though my family and friends complain that I never answer it anyway) more often. And, daily, I plan to pause to honor and listen to my own thoughts. It’s so important. Now, queue the Brand Nubian.