Hurry Up (& Rest)

Hey there, Dear Yogi,

How are you feeling?

Close your eyes, breathe deep. What do you sense in your body?

For a long time I felt a sense of urgency. Do you ever feel this? Not the fun kind in which you’re excited to get all your ideas out on paper or when you’re bursting with news to share. I’m thinking about Time Urgency in which you have to get a certain amount of tasks (enormous, tiny, complex, and simple) completed before time is up! And that timer can be anything: the baby’s nap, the deadline, the reservation, the family’s dinner, the board meeting, the presentation, the teacher’s meeting, the test, the class change, the committee meeting, the bell, The Meeting, the clock.

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Types of Clocks

I still feel it now, though not as intensely and not as often. And not because I’m evolved or enlightened, but because time has passed, and I have don’t have babies anymore. But if I did, I’d tell myself to hurry up and rest.

Back then I raced the “baby-clock” in Every Single Thing I Did: yoga asana, laundry, meditation, dinner prep, reading, tidying, writing, sweeping, posting, lesson planning, planting, grading, visiting, sending, gathering. The baby-clock looks like this: until the baby wakes, until the baby cries, until the baby wakes, until the baby cries, and on like this day after night after day after night.

Time passes and the toddler-clock looks like this: until the educational tv show is over, until the toys are boring, until someone gets hurts, until someone gets angry, until someone gets hungry, until someone screams, and on like this day after night after day after night. And all the urgent tasks are scattered throughout. Half done.

The little kid and big kid clocks look more like this: time for soccer, time for piano, time for games, time for a date with mom, time for violin, time for rehearsal, time for church, time for school, time for play, time for tv, time for silent reading. And also, time for breakfast, time for snack, time for lunch, time for snack, time for dinner, time for snack, time for bath, time for bed.

I answered all these clocks in the obvious and necessary ways for a long time. Then my answer to the kid-clock slowly grew (along with my children’s age, capability, and reason) into little bits of silence: “Mom’s not answering you because she’s meditating.” And this: “Mom, why are you upside down?”

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Cultural Expectation (?)

I did rest a lot. But I kinda wish I’d have rested more back then, and not just my body, but my mind. The sense of time urgency was largely in my mind. I wanted to get everything done everyday. The urgency to produce and do it efficiently was heavy and oppressive. Produce anything: a folded load of laundry, a meal, a clean room, a poem, a journal entry, a completed lesson plan, a smiling baby, a plate of cookies, an empty trash can, a graded stack of essays, a happy family, a successful class. All my worth was tied up in it, even when I told myself that simply growing and raising human beings was enough, that simply showing up was enough. Efficient Productivity Loomed.

I don’t know why this was such a part of my way of being, but my guess is that western culture saturates us with the idea that our worth is based on how much we can produce and whether or not we can produce it efficiently. Can we do it better, cheaper, faster? Try. Can you make your family happier? Try. Can you get more papers graded in less time? Try. Can you clean, cook, plan, and create at the same time? Try!

Hurry Up & Rest

If there’s a sense of urgency now, while I have big-kid-clocks and young-adult-clocks all around me, it’s this: sit down, rest, stand up, rest, turn upside down, rest, lie down, rest. Practicing ease, allowing, and unfolding helps me do this. I’m inviting you to find rest alongside me.

It’s good to remember that rest doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down, lying down, sleeping, napping, “doing nothing,” or “just being.” Play is really, really, really good rest. So, I’m inviting you to play, too. Play piano, play painting, play yoga, play ball, play games, play meditation, play climbing trees, play knitting, play visiting, play telling jokes, anything just for the fun of it.

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To Experiment

To practice being restful rather than being productive every waking moment and even in your sleep, consider recommitting to your sabbath practice or your dedicated time-off. Or try pausing for a moment to consider what is necessary, then do that one thing and leave the rest. This section is not about time management. This section will invite you to notice how you value your time and how you value yourself. After a couple days of practice, you might begin to shift, just a little, the way you move through the world.

Your unique set of circumstances will affect how the details shake out for you, but here are a few ideas to get you started. Try one that seems supportive or interesting, or try them all over a couple of weeks.

  • When pressed for time with a lot to do, ask for help. (Crazy, right?)
  • If faced with a daunting to-do list (that might be partly self-imposed), decide in the morning what is necessary for today, and what can shift to tomorrow.
  • Ask yourself what you value most in any given day. Take 3-5 minutes to journal or sketch about this and allow your answers to inform your choices for the next 24 hours.
  • Notice if you experience a resistance to resting or if you crave it, or both. When you rest do you feel bored, unproductive, or worth less? Do you notice a sense of receiving, renewing, or ease? There’s no right answer. Any answer will supply you with interesting information.
  • Do you experience a sense of all or nothing, either work, work, work, or rest, rest, rest? What would it be like to work a bit then rest a bit? What do you allow yourself to do when you’re “on vacation” but not when you’re “at home?”
  • If you have an aversion to “being unproductive,” consider the perspective that resting will make you more productive in the long run. Not the purpose of this practice, of course, but it just might get you to experiment with resting and see what it’s like!
  • Find an accountability partner. Check in with each other to support adding a dose of restfulness to your days.

No matter how productive we want to be, no matter how much we want the to-do list checked off, there are just some things that have to unfold in their own time. So maybe consider allowing things to unfold. Remember, you can’t feed the kids breakfast before they’ve had dinner.

Happy Resting, Happy Playing,

Amy

The Universal Yogi

PS – I forgot the pet-clock! There’s a pet-clock, too, the puppy-clock, the aquarium clock, the list goes on!

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Honoring & Releasing

Hello, Yoga Friends, Happy today!

Here’s an offering of practices for you.

This class is Yoga for Body-Mind & Heart: Practices for Honoring & Releasing. It was inspired by my teacher, and begins with seated centering, followed by a meditation of honoring and releasing. And then gentle moving, stretching, and opening the front body using the floor as a yoga prop.

Gather some pillows, blankets, or towels and a yoga strap or scarf. These items are not necessary but might make things feel more supportive.

To the casual observers, it might look like we’re just rolling around on the ground, but we’ll know the good playwork taking place. Expect opportunities to stretch the shoulders, chest, hips, abdomen, back, & sides. When you feel like something’s missing. Just add it in!

May you be covered in the blessings you most need right now,

Amy

The Universal Yogi

Joy (?)

My family has chosen “Joy” as the theme of our last week of Advent (even though it really doesn’t matter). For years my intention in practicing Yoga was to find, manifest, exude, realize “my true nature,” Contentment. And then one day on my first silent retreat, which happened to fall into the virtual zoom world of the 2020 pandemic lockdown, I had a realization – maybe I should be going for Joy. Seems crazy, but in my efforts toward living a contented life, I had employed non-attachment to the degree that (maybe) I had (unwittingly) crossed joy off the list.

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Joy Isn’t Bad

Not that I had already experienced enough joy and so I didn’t need to experience it anymore, but that it had become a thing I thought I didn’t need because I was content. (Such an interesting turn of events!) It’s possible that aspiring to a joyful life can seem indulgent, privileged, or naïve, so, not necessarily a “good thing.” However, during a period of journaling on that silent retreat, it occurred to me that perhaps I was selling myself short, barring myself from some real sweet moments. It was like – Hey, why not Joy?!

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Striving

I think it’s in the striving that I get caught. When I effort after everything, that’s when I get tired. This includes the “good stuff,” like contentment, children laughing, time for rest and being together. When I allow life’s moments to come to me, and I experience them without judgement to the degree that I’m able, there’s a peacefulness present regardless of the negative or positive flavor of what’s happening. The peace is there because I’m not striving or “efforting,” willing everything to go the way I think I want it to go.

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A Spectrum of Emotion

As an observation, I don’t strive toward despair or “alone-ness,” and yet these emotions come my way. I practice non-attachment for a little space between myself and them and as a way back toward balance. So, why don’t I let joy come the same way, and instead of using non-attachment to create separation, I use a little savoring to create union? As human beings we are able to experience a full range of emotions to varying degrees, so I might as well embrace the good ones and let them make a lasting imprint. I can choose when to employ non-attachment and when not to, right?

For Practice

To round out this Advent season (though I feel myself wishing for just a few more days, just a few more days!), and to usher in a celebration of our divine-human nature, consider being “extravagant.” Here are some questions for self-inquiry. Use them if they seem supportive. Skip them if not!

  1. What positive emotions seem elusive?
  2. Which do you shy away from?
  3. Has your focus been on contentment or somewhere else?
  4. What are you tired of striving after?

The “Yoga” Practice Part

  1. How does this show up in your yoga practice?
  2. What are you tired of practicing?
  3. Are there postures you don’t spend time in even though you’d love to savor them?
  4. Are there breathing practices that really feel sweet but you don’t make them a priority?
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Encouragement

Note what your inquiry reveals to you; then, instead of striving after whatever you’ve noticed, let it come to you with any amount of peacefulness.

Happy Practicing (a little, a lot, in new ways, and in old),

Amy

The Universal Yogi