Monday, November 11, 2013


"Inhale... Exhale... Begin again."

These four simple words became a mantra during meditation this past week. They were spoken by yoga teacher Djuna Mascall during one of our first morning sits, and they continued to return to me throughout the week, reminding me how powerful the practice can be.

I spent 5 days at Esalen in Big Sur, soaking up the hot springs, sitting in the meditation hut that is located at the juncture of the river and the ocean, practicing yoga with students and teachers who never fail to make me smile, and eating delicious food from the Esalen gardens. Throughout the 5 days, my mind echoed Djuna's statement:

Each time I sat for meditation, I noticed my tendency to wander and then I brought myself back with these words.

Each time I struggled through the more challenging poses - holding revolved triangle for 20 breaths! - I noticed my strain and came back to the mantra.

Each time I sat down to eat, whether in company or alone, I took a moment to remember her phrase.

Simple. Powerful.

What's implied in these four little words is that we have an infinite number of chances to renew our commitment to whatever it is we've set our minds to. With every breath, we release our previous success and failure and accept the opportunity to start anew, like the ocean waves that serenaded our week, or the sunrise that erased the previous day's stories.

Another quote that was shared repeatedly by all the teachers there - Tias Little, Brenda Proudfoot and Djuna - is the following from Anne Lamott, a lovely description of the allowing that occurs when we follow this practice of inhaling, exhaling and beginning again:

“We begin to find and become ourselves when we notice how we are already found, already truly, entirely, wildly, messily, marvelously who we were born to be.”