Like many folks who practice meditation or yoga on a daily basis, once I’ve made a connection to a particular teacher whose style, voice, and rhythm resonates with me, I then have a tendency to focus solely on that instructor, oftentimes for weeks or months on end. Not until I’ve hit some sort of wall or ostensibly inescapable situation will I stray from this pattern. Such was the case recently, when I found myself with hours to kill waiting for a delayed flight to depart from JFK Airport.
Unless one possesses a club membership card to a given airline’s elite waiting lounge, finding peace and tranquility during an airport’s peak travel time can be quite the challenge. Add to the mix no less than five departure gate changes, ranging from one end of the terminal to the other (as it was in this case), and you’ve got the perfect recipe for chaos and disorder.
Just because the outside world surrounding me was literally “all over the place,” didn’t mean that I too was required to join in the collective mayhem of this inconvenient experience — far from it. Instead, I chose to situate myself at a near-empty, centrally-based departure gate and began scanning my phone for up-to-the-minute information regarding my outbound flight. Rather serendipitously, an interesting promo for a meditation site unfamiliar to me appeared in my phone’s feed. I took this as a sign that it needed further investigation.
What I soon discovered was that “Insight Timer” is both a meditation and yoga app, with quite an extensive array of offerings. Rather than stand-alone sessions given by a single instructor that you would typically find on YouTube, it uses an algorithm that attempts to match your mood or feelings based on a selection of adjectives the user enters when initially signing in each visit. It then presents you with a dozen or so guides with a corresponding subject line, each with their mini-bios available for you to review. Session lengths appear to run from approximately 5 minutes all the way up to nearly a half hour. Most appear to be in the 10 – 15 minute range, for which I tend to subscribe.
One particular teacher; author and storyteller Sarah Blondin of British Columbia, caught my attention not due to her infectious smile, astutely-worded titles, or being one of the highest-rated instructors (though she does check off each of the boxes on those categories), but because she seemed to have a unique ability to share her own struggles in order to communicate growth through self-exploration.
Not surprising, given the moment at hand, I selected a session titled “Choosing Harmony.” As I would soon learn, with each of Sarah’s offerings, she begins with a monologue of sort — part poetry, part self-reflection — in which we, the students, begin to learn how to unearth the bits and pieces of a fragmented past which continue to obstruct our present-moment living. Two minutes into this beautifully-crafted guided meditation, I recognized just how insightful and discerning its message would be.
An especially cogent passage suggested the following: “We sometimes focus on that which brings us anger or frustration — throwing heavy, paralyzing thoughts upon it. All that we consider different or separate is our own inability to take responsibility for the power we yield. Everything around us, either positive or negative is asking for our love and support.”
I think we tend to forget just how important a role each of those components plays in our daily lives, and how often we seem to direct our attention to either one or the other, but rarely on both simultaneously. I’m thinking of mornings that begin with challenges before we leave the house that only continue to gain momentum throughout the day, never recognizing and appreciating those aspects that are truly enriching to our well-being.
This also holds true when we address our connection to the macro-level balance required in order to ensure our survival on this planet. The serious need for collective cooperation among all populations is much more acute than it has ever been.
Not surprising, Sarah is unequivocally resolute when addressing the issue during this session: “At the core we long for a more harmonious and nurturing relationship with self, others; along with our inner and outer worlds. Just as our internal cells prosper under love, ease and oneness, the same is said for the external world. Our body is a complex system working together, and so too is the earth and its inhabitants. Trying to remain an “I” – an individual, instead of a “we” – is what is responsible for the broken state of our earth.”
Can we always expect to be in synch with those parts of ourselves that attract a harmonious balance for each and every instance? Most likely not, but what we can do is allow those opportunities to come to the surface in order to at least identify them and from there choose an approach that will not only benefit our own soul, but work in unison towards creating a greater good. Listening to a Sarah Blondin guided meditation is an easy place to start, especially if you’re waiting to catch a flight.