Sixteen years ago, when I entered the yoga studio for my first yoga class, I had no idea the path I was about to embark on. It was before yoga was the latest craze. I wandered into it mainly out of curiosity and partially because I needed something to help me remove the extra stress in my life. I still remember the beautiful hard wood floors, the incense that filled the air and the beautiful lady with her hair spun up in a bun. She looked like she was straight out of Cosmo magazine. Over the next few years it was not the practice of yoga that I found to be my best find — it was meditation. Yoga helped me unwind the knots all tensed up in my physical body and meditation did the same for my mind -on a spiritual level.

When I first began trying to practice meditation I almost gave up. My mind went from grocery list to what was laying on my desk at work, to how I must look sitting there with my eyes closed and feet crossed. Everything came to my mind but what I wanted on it was nothing. Nothingness was precisely what I needed. That still empty space where I could find peace scurried from me every time I tried. Then slowly I could meditate and concentrate on waters, wind, and the peaceful color blue. Then I advanced and I could concentrate on light, or a word, or a mantra -whatever I needed most that day.

One day, without trying, my mind came to a stop. That precious moment was a glorious day. Nothing sat in my mind. Nothing at all. When I finished my meditation that day, I realized that I felt more peace in nothingness than I ever had. Meditations before that all achieved some peace for me and a certain level of clarity came after each one. So maybe the drive for nothing was not necessary. Maybe it was more about me finding me and you finding you. Meditation causes us to find what it is we are really needing at that point in our life and then allows that to penetrate the subconscious rooms we let it into when we practice. Meditation uncovers our subconscious desires. Once those are realized, they can be dealt with.

Meditation comes in many forms. It is not just a yoga studio with incense. I am still drawn to a yoga studio whenever I find the time but my beautiful sunroom, I have set up with a yoga mat is just fine. It nourishes me when I have a crazy Monday at work and need to take a break to process. It energizes me in the morning before I get my day started and calms me at night before I go to bed. When I am facing a major problem, meditation is there for me. It can be used anytime, in any setting. The important thing is to allow myself to find what I need deep inside to heal, to process, to be a better me. To understand that I can’t control all the things going on in the outside world, but I can control what goes on inside me. The yoga mat will always be there to catch me when I fall.

I had always heard that yoga was not about touching your toes, but what you learned on your way down. That could not be truer. One doesn’t even realize what they are about to learn each time they take the mat — yet we learn more and more. It isn’t at all about the mat, it’s about the process that happens on the mat and learning to practice it off the mat as well. Perhaps finding nothingness is not where we need to focus. Maybe our hearts know us best and if we let them lead us deep inside, we find peace, love, our true selves and healing.

Heal your souls my fellow loves… on a mat or off one.