By Katie Mathews
In a country and a world in desperate need for peace, I must admit that
I too am searching for peace.
In regard to my own current health and fitness regimen, it has slipped a bit in my list of priorities, not necessarily by choice, although I suppose that could be argued. My work schedule fluctuates quite a bit on a weekly basis, and I also have a long commute so it is difficult to pinpoint a consistent schedule and routine.
I really enjoy running and yoga. I haven’t been able to keep up with my running in the past month or so, and recently I haven’t made it to my yoga mat as many times as I would like to be able to go. I would like to be able to go 4 or 5 times a week, and right now I’m lucky if I can fit in going 3 times per week. Throughout this year, I have focused much more on nutrition and eating healthier along with drinking a lot of water each day. I’ve continued to eat pretty healthy overall, but do I let myself cheat occasionally - who doesn’t right?
With a combined struggle of anxiety and the need to relax, it is hard to feel at peace. It can be pretty challenging for me to sit and really focus on the present moment.
My mind is constantly in a state of preparation for what is to come next.
My search for peace of mind and spirit is currently rooted in faith and my yoga practice. In yoga, we are invited to set intentions at the beginning of class. Earlier this week, one of the teachers at the yoga studio I go to explained that, “Intention gives way to action, and action gives way to change.” That caught my attention and reminded me that we are all after some sort of change to better ourselves.
When I am on my yoga mat, I am striving to slow down;
to accept my limits while celebrating my capabilities;
to show gratitude for slow progress beginning with focusing on the power of my own breath and how it fuels my body toward movement. It sounds beautiful, poetic even, and during most classes, it really is just that. All those listed efforts combined though, there are some classes when it creates quite a bit of inner-chatter in my head. I get to the end of those classes and realize I have completely zoned out and focused on everything except the poses and my breath.
Training is not easy. American philosopher and self-help author, Wayne Walter Dyer, says, “Peace is retraining your mind to process life as it is, rather than as you think it should be.” I really appreciate this quote. It encourages me to make it easier by focusing on today, and it also reminds me that I am not alone.
We are all pursuing peace in one way or another.
What is cool about yoga is that when you relax your body, you can usually go into a pose a little deeper. In other words, relaxing actually enables you to do more with your body. I experienced that the other day as I was able to go a little bit further into a pose than I had been able to do before.
It doesn’t always happen that way of course. Yoga is a practice, and it challenges me to let go of everything that I cannot control. I have been reminded of that again and again lately. I can’t force someone to forgive me and be my friend again just like I don’t have the power to make everything right in our country and in our world. In life, there is so little we actually do have control over. What we do have control over though is how we treat ourselves and those around us. I believe that we can all find a little bit of peace in our own hearts and extend it outward toward the common good.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Hi everyone, my name is Katie Matthews! I live in Cincinnati and am the Director of Campus Ministry at St. Mary's Church working with the college students at Miami University in Oxford. Fr. H.Paul Kim first introduced me to his idea of the Living Person in 2010 when he encouraged me to do two things: pray and run. Since then I've fallen in love with this concept and challenged myself in a variety of ways. I most enjoy swimming, running, yoga, laughing obnoxiously loud, dancing, and all aspects of Ignatian Spirituality.