Friday, October 23, 2015


Last Sunday morning during a rainy morning jog in Seward Park, I listened to a podcast about the science of mindfulness with Ellen Langer.  At one point, Dr. Langer shared a quote (I can't remember from where) which was something like, "Placebo is a way of unlocking your brain's pharmacy." I had to stop running and jot it in my notes because it struck me so intensely.

For most of my life I have been "anti-medication." I once had a cough for six weeks straight and finally succumbed to the use of a steroid inhaler and Flonaze. Ultimately what cured me of that cough was acupuncture, further reinforcing my "anti" stance.

I believe that believing is powerful medicine. When Ellen Langer talked about the actual science of placebo, how using one's mind to alter one's body, I was hooked in, validated, inspired.

For years I've heard people suggest that Yoga is a placebo, that it really does nothing. Sure, many people who practice Yoga experience no real life change, physically, mentally, or emotionally, but I would contend that those of us who bring some intention, some belief into our practice, actually do experience life shifts on all levels.

It's subtle, the intention-bringing, and as much as I would love to hone this message down into three words, I cannot, because, above anything, I am truly a student of all of this, trying my best like everyone else.  What I do know is that becoming more mindful, more deliberate on our Yoga mats (and everywhere in our lives), comes from breaking down the moments into smaller moments that we can really digest and truly experience.

In Standing Head to Knee, as soon as you start to fold forward, are you already starting to think about kicking out? It's okay if you are, but try to slow down and just be bending. Experience that before you jump to the "one day moment" when your forehead will be on your knee. You will find your learning, both physically and mentally grows exponentially.

It's hard work. I am a colossal failure at being a mindful parent, for example. This morning, as I packed a lunch box and heated up a baguette for the family breakfast, I had a video from the Mindfulness Summit playing in the background. No small moments or digestible pieces in that picture. For me, my Yoga mat is my one true place. I am grateful for this space to live my life little by little, step by step. For me it's harder in other areas to bring this intentionality. For you, it might be your Yoga mat where you struggle. No matter where you are, what you're doing, just keep trying, baby step by baby step.

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