Meditation and Yoga for Clarity, Compassion, and Balance

Clarity of mind is something hard to define exactly, but we know it when confusion and restlessness settle, even for a few moments, and we feel present and collected. Most of us live with many responsibilities and a never-ending to-do list, and if there is a space in our day to just stop and rest, the pull of our electronic devices likely draws us into a meandering and often scattered trip into a patchwork of news, Facebook, email, Instagram, and so on. In the endless doing and taking in and reacting to information, we lose our center.

Clarity develops through meditation when we simply place our attention in the breath, in the body, and allow it to stabilize the mind. The focus gives us a sense of "home base" or inner refuge. In the practice of yoga, the energies of the body are revitalized and brought into balance, and the mind and body harmonized. Together, these two practices can support the alignment of body, mind, and spirit.

It's a joy to collect ourselves with mindfulness. Without mindfulness, we are driven by unconscious habits and we tend to perpetuate the same old patterns—reacting to things that trigger us and creating suffering for ourselves and for those around us. As we develop mindfulness and simply become more mature and caring human beings, we develop discernment and the capacity to make wiser choices.

The practices of meditation and yoga are tools to enable that inner gathering of awareness to develop and become a stable inner presence, so that we are not blown hither and yon by the winds of the changing conditions of our lives or the inner storms of emotions. We realize that we have a true inner refuge that's always available to us. In some meditation traditions, this development is called "the creation of the person."

A student recently told me that she had been having some health problems and was undergoing a series of tests to determine the cause. Her doctor had given her a range of possible illnesses and conditions that might be present. As she waited for test results, she was feeling fear and other strong emotions. She described how she discovered that there was a sense of inner space in which she could be with the fear; she also found that in that space there was acceptance, kindness, and compassion. When the results came back showing that the most serious illness was ruled out, she still felt grateful for the opportunity to have opened to the possibility of it and the inner presence and spaciousness that she discovered as a result.

As we gain confidence in our inner refuge, acceptance and compassion for ourselves also grows, which in turn opens us to acceptance and compassion for others. Although each of us is unique, this inward journey opens our eyes and our hearts to see the common threads in the many expressions of human suffering and also in the diverse flowerings of wisdom and beautiful qualities. 

Find out about yoga and meditation programs with Daryl Lynn Ross and other Kripalu presenters.

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Daryl Lynn Ross, cofounder and guiding teacher of True North Insight Meditation in Canada, is known for her clear, gentle, compassionate approach to Buddhist teachings.

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