On September 25, 2020, MBS students got a chance to explore the philosophies of yoga and mindfulness as they attended the virtual session ‘Cultivating Mindfulness’ led by Susan Favale, owner of Honor Yoga in North Brunswick, New Jersey. A yoga teacher trained in many modalities of movement—such as Aerial, Acro, Barre, and Reiki, as well as Thai and therapeutic massage—Favale has studied various forms of meditation and mindfulness as well as leadership coaching. Her role as a mindfulness speaker and educator in schools has helped her to better understand student stressors, especially in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Last Friday’s session empowered students to believe in themselves by overcoming their fears and accepting themselves for who they are.
‘What you think, you become,’ a quote by Buddha, set the tone for MBS students to understand the concept of mindfulness. With little to no control over the external changes in our lives, we all must accept that constant change stresses us, says Favale. In fearing change—which stresses us—we can, in turn, trigger multiple other fears, causing what Favale refers to as a “stress loop.” But what if we looked at the bright side of change and the opportunities it can present? If we can think of difficult times as opportunities for growth, then we can become more self-aware. Looking for who we truly are and accepting ourselves as we are—instead of clouding our minds with worries or regrets of who we wish to be—is the process of pure and mindful self-acceptance. When we react to situations without awareness and mindfulness of our strengths and what centers us, we are not accepting ourselves for who we are.
Favale then led participants in a meditation session, requesting that everyone to be open to self-awareness. By relaxing the body, dropping the gaze, students were asked to let go of the external environment as they noticed their breath and said to themselves, ‘I love myself unconditionally.’ As everyone treated themselves with love and respect, they held their hearts with a gesture, or mundra, of trust (pictured below). They repeated their affirmations and then reflected on their feelings of fear and resistance.
Favale showing students the mudra (gesture) of trust. Unshakable self-trust is very important for us to transition through changes in and around us.
As students understood more about the power of their minds, it was time for them to focus on the union of mind and body through yoga. Favale discussed her own experiences with yoga and shared how yoga has helped her and her clients heal both physically and emotionally. She described the importance of understanding how the mind works, explaining that the world is our own production, and all suffering is created in the mind. Favale referred to Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras as the foundation of yoga philosophy. The sutras, a series of 196 verses, are threaded together to state, “yoga chitta vritti nirodhah,” or “yoga is the stilling of the fluctuations of the mind.” Physical movement plays a critical role in calming our mind, too, and Susan ensured that students experienced the same as she taught some yoga asanas (body postures).
MBS students following yoga asanas demonstrated by Susan Favale.
Finally, Favale talked about positive and negative energy vibrations that can emanate within each one of us and how these vibrations can play a powerful role in either ensuring or disrupting true mind/body harmony. She also emphasized the importance of being aware of one’s surroundings and how our surroundings may positively or negatively impact our vibrations.
Favale encouraged students to write down their accomplishments and detail how they made these successes happen. As they did so, Favale asked students to define their mantras. Favale concluded the session by sharing Albert Einstein’s famous quote: “There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.”