By Leilani Bishop, March, 2016
March Madness is a term you rarely hear in a yoga studio, but one you become quite familiar with when you live with basketball fans.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, March is the month that college basketball reaches its peak, and the past year’s efforts come to fruition: the teams battle it out, one after the other falling to the wayside, until the “Final Four” remain, and then the long awaited Finals. Fans compare their brackets, making predictions and bets; even President Obama fills out his bracket.
Living out on the East End of Long Island, a sleepy community in the winter and an intense throbbing destination in the summer, March signifies the turning point for both local businesses and the summer crowd. There is the big push for visitors to secure their rentals. Restaurants and retail businesses are repairing and prepping for the crowds. Construction, landscaping, and pool companies are pressured to meet their clients’ deadlines, creating our own version of March Madness.
As I write this, I am fresh off the boat (plane) from my yearly yoga retreat, where time stands still – there is little wifi and no phones. For a week, our focus is on the beauty of the place and the people we’re surrounded by. The biggest gift we are given though is the gift of being PRESENT. As I reintegrate into my daily life, all around me people are preparing for a future that has not yet arrived, and few are fully present in the here and now.
March is also the last month of winter, a season that signifies and supports introspection and stillness, and for the East End, a bit of a “calm before the storm.” I came back from my trip with a strengthened resolve to enjoy this time when I can walk in the woods and on the beach, bundled up in my solitude, free of distraction from the summer crowds.
The present is not always a place of ease – it can feel uncomfortable, and I often find myself running toward distraction. But the more I practice, the easier it gets. As the world gets faster and busier, the present is where I feel the calmest, the most centered and at peace with my life. Staying in this space is now a bigger priority for me than ever.
I know that distracted energy affects my friends, family, and coworkers. And I also know that when I work to have moments of quiet every day, that stillness has a profound effect on my life and the people I come in contact with. Ultimately, our individual energy impacts the whole world.
My practice is still in baby steps, but if I can simply do five minutes of meditation and three Sun Salutations, and adhere to boundaries I put on myself regarding daily screen time, I consider that a success. 🙂
Being present allows us to enjoy the festivities of life, including the seasons and even March Madness. Then even if our team loses we can still rejoice in the journey, commitment, and dedication of these wonderful young athletes. All of which fades into the past as they step onto the court and into the present moment, truly the only moment that counts.