I am doing too much lately. T’is spring. Soccer here, soccer there. My daughter runs on Tuesday and Thursday. My son plays football on Monday. There’s violin and cello. Meetings with teachers. Teaching yoga. Writing for myself and others. Cleaning one little corner of the house and then another. Calling contractors to get estimates. Projects I signed on to or even started that sounded like great ideas in January now feel daunting.
I find this same tendency sometimes in my yoga – going too far, doing too much. The proof is that I keep wonking my neck – first the left side and now the right. Too many chaturangas perhaps not done just so … ? Or is the headstands? I’m not sure, but I do know it’s a sign of too muchness. Reel it in Jennifer; come back to that beginner’s mind. There is nothing less in a forward fold. Downward dog holds enough lessons for a lifetime.
I find this same tendency in my writing: This could be a book! The tendency to think big, to expect too much. Melville had to start somewhere, I tell myself.
“Who would you like to be?” a conference leader once asked. “The Buddha,” I thought. Big, bigger, biggest.
My home office – if you can really call it that – has become a cesspool of projects started and abandoned, of ideas gnawed off at the femur only to be released and spat out part way. It makes me sick with embarrassment to cull through its contents. And yet it whispers a cautionary tale. Do less.
Can you be content with beginner’s poses? Content with this blog and writing as it burbles up, going no place in particular? Happy to take a writing workshop that may lead no where except pleasure? Content with parenting and leading a household that is messy and a bit frayed around the edges but happy?
sthira sukham asanam
This summer, we chanted some of Patanjali’s yoga sutras, all of which utterly agreed with me but for one: sthira sukham asanam. Translation: May the posture be steady and comfortable.
That just sounded wimpy to me. But steady and comfortable, I know in my gut, does not mean without any effort. In yoga, as in writing and parenting and so many things in our life that we love but which challenge us, the sweet spot is to make an effort and in that effort find a place into which you can surrender. Or as Patanjali also said, work on the body should be “hard but at the same time soft.”
So I sink into this Friday, removing one thing from my plate that isn’t serving any part of me other than my over zealous guilt complex and happy to have gained a late afternoon yoga class from a teacher friend who doesn’t feel well. I’ll use it as time to sink, sink, sink into that steady, comfortable place.