There's a time to do and there's a time to...not. As you can tell by my absence from blogland, I've been leaning towards the "not" side of things. Lately, I've been spending my time being and taking a deeper look at what I do when I'm doing. What I realized is that I need to start saying no to the majority of things that have been keeping me spinning round and round on the hamster wheel and say yes to things that fill me up. That's going to mean some tough cuts and in some cases, I'm going to be the "bad" guy (or girl, in this case...or perhaps bad yogi??).
This brings to mind a conversation I had with a friend of mine (who is aware of this post and is not offended by my outing him on the World Wide Web) a few months back. He had discovered a practice that was making him feel good and, as a side benefit, improved his romantic relationship. His life got busy (or should I say that he started to say yes to things that he admittedly thinks he should have said no to) and then his relationship ended. Still, he would identify himself as a practitioner.
I asked him the age old philosophy question -- if a tree falls down in the forrest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound? Same goes with practice -- if you call yourself a practitioner (of anything -- yoga, meditation, whatever) but don't practice, are you really a practitioner? I didn't want an answer -- I merely wanted him to consider it.
A few months later, he picked the practice back up again and then started a new romantic relationship. Interestingly enough, the same thing happened -- life got busy, the practice fell by the wayside, and the romantic relationship ended. Hmmmm...curious, no?
When we talked about this habitual phenomena, he summed it up as him spending time on the wrong things "as usual." I never judged his dropping of his practice and/or his time spent in busyness as a bad thing or wrong. Yet, his word choice is quite telling, I would say.
Lest you think I'm throwing my friend under the blog bus -- NO! I, too, struggle with where I put my time and what I say yes and no to. Sometimes I find myself in overdo mode and I have to bring myself back into balance. It's funny how our society doesn't promote this balance at all and instead praises doing over being.
Around a year ago, I got out of a serious relationship. I was greatly amused by the number of "you should get back out there and start dating" comments. It's the old "get back on the horse" mentality. After all, the man I was in relationship with did just that. Shouldn't I be doing whatever I can to catch up?
My response to that is, HELL NO! First of all, it's NOT a race. Second of all, there's nothing wrong with taking a little being time. During this time, I explored some different relationship options that I'd been thinking about, got clearer on what I want in a relationship, and realized that I need to make some changes myself in order to be the right partner for that type of relationship. Viola -- it's amazing the clarity that comes with a little being time. If I had jumped right into a relationship, I would never have learned what I have and frankly, I would have made the same mistakes I made in the past relationship.
I used to like the label "yoga practitioner." But what I like more than the label is the actual practice. I realize that the label doesn't benefit me (outside of giving me some nice street cred and a bright, shiny facade). And the practice done only when things aren't busy or hectic doesn't really amount to a practice. It's merely a sporadic thing that you do because you think it feels good or yields results.
I got this little message myself when I started meditating regularly last month (I'd been a sporadic meditator in the past). I, like my friend, meditated sporadically and felt the benefits. Yet, it was the first thing to go when time got tight. Yet, I looooved labeling myself as a meditator. Gee, ego much?
All those years when I looked at practice as something on the to do list, something that I needed to schedule, something that made me feel like a kid blowing off her homework if it wasn't done when in reality what it really is is a form of self love. Shelving self love is a sure sign that I'm out of balance on the doing vs. being scale.
So to honor being in a world where doing is prized and encouraged, I'm inviting you to be...and to ask yourself: what are you saying yes to and what are you saying no to? Are you loving and honoring yourself or are you doing yourself into oblivion? Here are a few tools to help you relax and be:
Soothing Sounds: If I'm feeling crazed during the day, I like to take a music break (sometimes I dance along with the music and sometimes I just sit and listen). Here are two lovely chants to slow you down and keep the peace, so to speak:
R&R: If you're looking for a yoga practice that will slow you down, click here for free downloads from Eoin Finn. Simply enter the word LOVE in the download code box and you'll find a restorative practice that will slow down your mind and comfort your body.
If you'd rather stick to your own practice, I recommend slooooowing it down. Hold each posture for a few breaths. Notice what happens when you practice at half speed.