When else in history have we known so many random details about people’s lives? I know for me, at any give moment, I might know what my seventh grade teacher, my family friend in Sweden, and my neighbor are all having for dinner... right in the same moment. A photo posted Instagram shows her candlelit meal for two. Facebook shows his check-in at a local BBQ restaurant. The third is tagged in a photo next to a giant plate of nachos.
All at my fingertips, like I was there. (Except I wasn't.)
I had lunch with a friend a while back, and I congratulated her for a big award she won at her company. I was so excited to hear all about it when I saw it on Facebook — it was the first thing out of my mouth when we sat down to eat. She thanked me, and quickly shook off her smile and admitted, “Well, that’s not even half the story. What I didn’t post was how hard my year was leading up to that award. I’m exhausted.”
She went on, sharing how her life really was. It was such a simple comment—and I normally wouldn’t think twice about it. But when I left the restaurant, something clicked. My mind was blown as I realized she was right: Despite all our “connections” online, and despite how happy she looked with her award, we never have the whole story. We don’t even have HALF the story of someone else’s life.
An online connection can be great: It inspires a sense of curiosity. We want to connect with something bigger than ourselves. We are intrigued by things that inspire us.
But here’s the secret that applies to our life as yogis: More often than not, we’re reaching for something outside ourselves — seeking a pat on the back, an ear to listen to our woes, or a LIKE on social media, just to validate that we’re on the right track in our life. To avoid going inward (consciously or not), we get wrapped up in the “story” of someone else’s life online, when what we “know” is only a tiny shred of reality.
But what if we just knew that we were on the right track, without a shadow of doubt? What if we didn’t need (or crave) the external validation that we’re awesome?
Believe it: Meditation gets us there.
It improves our inward relationship, and consequently our relationship with those around us.
Meditation isn’t tied to any religion, requires no “body type” or “mental capacity.” You might have heard the word "mindfulness," and yes, the are elements of that... but this practice we'll learn isn't going to make your mind FULL. (If it does, then we have a problem!) It's going to get you into a place of stillness, emptiness and pure awareness. The only requirement is being human. If you’re a human being, you’re capable of shifting the way you live through meditation.
And here’s a fun fact: In the east, meditation and yoga aren’t different. They’re the same. They’re like yin and yang — meditation is as much a part of yoga as downward dog. Our bodies need to be still just as much as they need to be moved. Western marketing just altered things to be more “palatable” and separated the two.
So if you’re loving the yoga classes, and ready to take your practice to the next level, it’s time to stop wondering with a mind full of thoughts. Keep your curiosity. Instead, start wandering down your own path of meditation. Achieving regular access to that field of silence within each of us is the greatest gift we can give our body, mind and spirit.
Originally hailing from Wisconsin, Mollie is a cheesehead transplant to Northwest Montana, with degrees in Retail and Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Today, she lives off the grid, half the year in a Tiny House & half the year in a yurt — both of which she and her husband, Sean, built by hand. Nonprofit Executive Director by day, Mollie also owns and teaches at Yoga Hive — a chain of community yoga studios in the valley.