Photo by: Rick Bern Photography

By slowing down, learning to relax the body so it can work more efficiently, and by cultivating the ability to quiet the mind, one can access one’s own essential nature: that which is peaceful and loving. I teach Slow Flow as a journey back to yourself, to be reunited with your essence and to harmoniously live with yourself.

By slowing down and stabilizing one’s attention on the breath (this takes practice), it has been possible for me to tap into a state of inner peace and learn to relax into what is. This to me is a life long, breath by breath process. By cultivating this slower and kind attitude, one’s practice may be transformed from a physical practice, which at times can be competitive or aggressive, to a more internal, benevolent path of self-study; a self contemplative experience.

By bridging the gap of what we perceive as a separation of mind, body, and spirit, and also through the integration of the three, the practice can become an exploration of one’s own reactive and holding patterns. For example, by pausing, stabilizing the attention on the breath, and trying to remain calm despite the tolerable fluctuations of the mind, body, and spirit, clarity begins to develop.

Through clarity, our thoughts become simpler and we are more inclined to take healthy actions. Through clarity, we can start to see ourselves as we are and try to unconditionally accept our truth. We realize that perfection is an illusion and we can kindly start to relax into our imperfections. We can compassionately see and accept our humanity. This benevolent attitude allows us to gain inner wisdom, and the ability to calm down and remain peaceful in the midst of intensity (tolerable discomfort) or else to back out so we can diminish the struggle. We can learn to apply kindness and respect towards our own limitations, accepting ourselves without adding a judgmental story behind our truth in that moment. We learn to recognize that our truth is valid and worth respecting. We understand that we are each in our own journey, yet we are all in this path of growth together. We discover that the closer we get to our basic nature the more we value our inner peace, our capacity to love and be loved, to be present, to experience well being, to be kind, to feel compassion and to feel our vitality. In my experience, the most important realization is the capacity to try our best to feel unconditional love towards ourselves and to also try to radiate this towards others, with healthy and clear boundaries.

Through slowing down and experiencing ourselves more clearly we discover that the value of our existence is not defined or determined by how far we go into a pose or what we look like on the outside, instead we may start to realize that the value of our existence is in our essence, in who we choose to be and how we choose to live, what choices we make and the impact of them towards us and others. Perhaps by slowing down and shedding layers of misperceptions, everyone may have the potential to develop the capacity to shine the qualities of our essence. It’s clear to me that the choice to embody and fully shine these qualities is a conscious choice and a continuous practice.

In time, we may notice that the asana or physical practice is a means to experience the body as a vehicle to facilitate the experience, a vehicle to train our mind. When we mature in our practice though we still value the asana practice, we may understand that breath awareness, clarity of mind and a state of inner peace come first. As a result, we no longer need to chase after a pose or try to get it “right”, we do the best we can in that moment to create a healthy and sustainable challenge. We can now clearly observe how force and/or aggression disrupt our focus and inner calm, when we identify the struggle we can choose to redirect our focus to the breath, we can try to stay calm, back out if needed and become more patient in the process. I deeply value the gift of Slow Flow as it’s given me the greatest gift I could have asked for: the skill to see myself more clearly and the skill to continue shedding layers of misperceptions, breath by breath, day by day.

This writing was originally published by Down Under School of Yoga