Today I did/didn’t DO: A reflection on pause

I took 3 sunshine walks today and picked flowers

I ate a pluot today (why have I not been exposed to this magical deliciousness before!) on my back patio watching some bees play tag

I read today

I got an extra practice in today and threw my legs up the wall

I closed my eyes to rest, for no reason other than I wanted to for 10 minutes today

I did/didn’t do a lot today…

Why do I care? Why do you care for that matter?

iReality Check: Obligations, Responsibilities, Appearances, Effort, Work, Filler, TV, internet, Drama, Gossip, Negative thought patterns, expectations, projection, dwelling, discontentedness, unease, malaise, grief, anger, fear, OTHERNESS. How do you feel just after reading that strand of nonsense? Small? Uneasy? Familiar? Just look at the world within you while your trudging through the world around you. How many of those words resonate with how you choose (subconsciously or not) to spend the majority of your day?

So many of us are addicted to this insanity.

Even as an early yoga practitioner much of my life was spent with the self inflicted “shoulds”- “you SHOULD be experiencing this, you SHOULD be more skilled, you SHOULD be letting go, you SHOULD have learned that already!, you SHOULD be better, you SHOULD be stronger, you SHOULD be clearer, you SHOULD be more compassionate, caring, loving, detached…” the list goes on. The “shoulds” bred rebellion and angst. They kept me practicing on the outside but hitting the same concrete wall on the inside. When my proverbial knuckles got bloody enough life hit me with this…. “Just Observe there sister.”

The first time I heard this message loud and clear I let it happen for a second and then decided it wasn’t for me. What was I supposed to observe when my life so clearly needed to be fixed, progressing, and goal oriented? It felt static and confined. But the message continued to pop up again, and again, and again. My mind started to revolt, my body started to deteriorate, my mood was epic to say the least. I was in my early 20’s and the world was falling apart. I was SPENT. How loudly did I need to hear the call of my spirit before i’d listen? When I was forced into a three month mostly bed-ridden sabbatical after major GI surgery defeat turned into space to eventually listen to the message.

The road out of that attachment to struggle has not always been easy. Despite academic success and outward appearances, I spent a lot of my early 20’s in the hospital, in bed, in self contempt so to come out of that was like putting a deep sea creature in the middle of Sub Saharan Africa. It was shockingly bright. Eventually though, through the consistent practice of yoga; first asana, then pranayama and eventually other techniques, the world became less tremendous. I started to come out of my small and manufactured existence and expand in to my own potential. At first I used the momentum I was so used to relying on to move forward, but in a better way (Better Samskara so to speak). Instead of filling my days with the darker shoulds or distractions I started the process os self exploration. I started to practice every morning, I started to read more and study, I started to get a bit pickier about my teachers and the balance of classes I took. Years later i’m finally getting to the point of letting the techniques take me closer to the moment i’m in rather than the one I want to be in. It’s hard to describe other than to say that the seeking momentum has recalled the search party one step at a time so that while i’m still discovering the benefits of this practice towards total health, I also illuminate the gifts of my soul that remind me I’m already whole. The observation now is more innate. Sometimes I notice myself just noticing the world without direction or goal. Just being delighted in the self.

So back to the beginning. Why is what I did today so important? Because it was a Pause. I’ve been allowing this for myself more and more again. Cooking healthy food, taking time to rest, showing up rather than planning everything out. The result? I’m still here. I’m still “productive.” But i’m also sometimes just STILL. I challenge you. Take a pause. Give the momentum a break. Allow it to happen again and again and again. Quiet the monsters in your head that say it isn’t convenient or allowed.

You have this life…what are you going to STOP DOING in order to live it?

Here is my list of easy Pauses:

  • Cook a meal at home and make the table visually pleasing. Repeat a mantra to yourself as you prepare IMG_4178the food. If you aren’t
  • Find a good book and read it for no other reason than to just enjoy it
  • a meandering walk with conscious breathing
  • Smile at your image in the mirror for a good 30 seconds…dare you not to laugh
  • Lie down, put your legs up the wall and an eye pillow on your eyes and watch the effort drip off of the skin
  • TALK TO a friend and keep the conversation between you (no texting, what’s app’ing, Facebook messaging, gossiping)
  • step outside and let the sensation wrap itself in to you: warm sun, cool rain, breeze, see the colors- muted or vibrant, hear the world, observe the permeability of your clothing on the skin.
  • Go to a coffee shop and smile at each person you lock eyes with.
  • put on good music and dance like Everyone you love is dancing with you
  • Open a journal, feel the texture of the pages, the weight of the book, and let whatever happens happen. Words, images, blank page. It’s all sweet.
  • If you practice asana, get on your mat or blanket or carpet and just go for it. Allow your body to move like Art, letting the breath, the intention guide you.
  • Yoga Nidra
  • Naptime
  • Color- like… with Crayons (or feel free to paint if you have any kind of artistic inclination 😉 )

I realize this post is somewhat of a continuation of the last post on the Siva Samhita 1.63…but there is intention behind that. I hope it allows you to keep the process of self exploration going. What are your favorite pauses. What reconnects you to you?


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