Illustration: The Magazine of Yoga.
Fighting inertia when I can do that any time means never getting around to it.
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST JOANNA HELLER
10 6 2010
Today I let too many things become the choices I did not make. I had the whole day open. It was mine to build. By 4 pm I had built very little… My first thoughts this morning were that I would take a walk along the shore, do a few house spouse things and have plenty of time for a yoga practice. Despite the fact that I really enjoy walking in the rain, I looked out at today’s super downpour and decided it was too much work to get my rain jacket. So the walk never happened…
So far, I’m seeing this day the way many native New Yorkers tend to see their visit to the Statue of Liberty.
Namely, “I can do it any time.” So no special reason for it to be now.
If I had planned a trip from Durango to NYC to see the Statue of Liberty I surely would see it. It would be a have to. Living right here it’s one of those choices that might not happen for decades or maybe not ever.
So too, yoga. When I go to a 10 o’clock yoga class, I do yoga at 10 o’clock. When I am home and I can do yoga at 8 o’clock or 9 o’clock or 2 or 3 o’clock, guess what, here it is 4 o’clock and… no walk and no yoga.
How do I turn a choice into a have to? I’m thinking that maybe rituals are really useful.
10 7 2010
Speaking of Ritual, which maybe you were not…
I’ve never been very good at developing or observing ritual. Don’t know why. But I’m thinking about it now. I’ve recently developed something that is starting to feel a bit like one. I can’t take credit for the intention and I was certainly not very proactive. But a ritual is happening, nevertheless.
What happens is this… when I get stuck in my day, I have this sudden memory of a day not long ago, reading a death notice in my local newspaper. Dorothy, a colleague from my recent past, not terribly old, had just died. The last time I saw her, she was fine, going to work every day dressed in her fine business suit. Her death may or may not have been sudden but reading it in the newspaper was a big suddenness to me.
That is the whole message. She died. Her time to do anything at all, in this life anyway, just ended abruptly. No more business to do, or telephone calls to make or lunches to eat. No tomorrow. No new day. No I’ll just do it later.
This awareness is a jolt and stops me in my tracks. I can always do “it” later? No. This is a reminder that one day there will be no “later”. If I think I want to do it, then I need to do it. Make it a have to.
10 12 2010
So this morning I made a have to for myself. Anticipating a a very difficult day, I decided to have the structure of a yoga class rather than my own home practice to ensure that I did not surrender to anxiety but rather stayed with my yoga self for a reasonable length of time.
I walked into the class anticipating a ‘regular’ (whatever that is) yoga class. Uh oh, the music was disco and the instructor’s pace matched. I, a lover of yin yoga, had just fallen into “gym yoga”.
My first inclination was to leave. It was very tempting and it was a close call but I took a deep breath and I stayed.
I saw that I would have to really work to hold my own – oh, I just saw that phrase newly… really hold my own self, hold my own space in the midst of loud music, this teacher’s somewhat frenetic voice and body as she walked heavily and incessantly round and round the gym. Oh yes, and let’s not forget the distraction of all the other bodies in the gym jumping aerobically from posture to posture.
My wandering mind always makes staying focused on meditation and yoga difficult. Today, in addition to my mind’s own wandering was the added stress of this particular day and the distraction of the activity all around me as well as my anger that the class was not what I expected and wanted.
Well I did not get the help in the way that I expected. But gradually I did take in a lesson. It was the one I needed. The work of letting go the words, the music and the pace that was not mine actually helped me to keep returning to my breath, to my center.
Don’t look. Don’t listen – really hard. Let everything go and try to rivet my attention on my breath. Return to my breath. Return to my body. Stay.
So I did get my practice after all. The practice I wanted. It just was not presented in the way that I had expected. Actually I guess I got a bonus… I had to work harder so as not to miss the gift.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.