Forfeiting the race
Why is there always a sense of urgency about things? Why does it seem like time is running out? Always hurrying from one thing to the next. Time spent on anything but busyness is wasteful. "I wish I had more time!" people are always saying. I read a quote somewhere that said something like "Einstein and Michaelangelo had the same 24 hours you do." Some nights I hit my pillow so completely exhausted yet having accomplished nothing in particular.
The sense of urgency and needing to keep up causes so much unnecessary suffering. Life is moving so fast... Is it? Is time moving faster than it used to? Doesn't 24 hours still last 24 hours like they did 100 years ago? Time isn't what's moving so fast, we are. The question is, why?
A yoga teacher once said that whatever neurosis you have off the mat you bring to the mat with you. The same sense of urgency and busyness and needing to accomplish and keep up with others is just as prevalent in yoga-land as it is in the rest of society. The question is still, why?
In society we strive to accumulate promotions, possessions, money, bigger house, better car. Our children are pushed to excel at everything. They must make honor roll, play 5 sports and master musical instruments. We strive to make them "well rounded" by filling their days with structured activity. In yoga-land, it's the race to "awaken". We strive to accumulate training certificates, have the biggest "following", master the most advanced postures, teach the most yoga classes, run retreats and workshops and on and on and on. We want to be well rounded so we fill our time with everything yoga. We must become master teachers even if it kills us!
When I first started teaching yoga I was teaching upwards of 10 classes a week. In addition I was enrolled in a 500 hr advanced yoga teacher training program. I was also in a dysfunctional marriage, working full time and trying to raise 3 children. Since that time I completed 2 advanced yoga teacher training programs and a 500 hr Ayurveda lifestyle consultant course. People would always say to me "I don't know how you do it." "I'm so impressed that you can manage to do so much". From the outside I had it all together.... On the inside I was falling apart. I was running all the time... No one ever asked me what it was that I was running away from. What was the hole that I was trying to fill?
The last 2 years have been completely different. I'm teaching much less, I'm not taking any training programs, my marriage ended and my children often times fend for themselves. From the outside it looks like things are falling apart.... On the inside, things are coming together.
At the end of my Ayurveda training I asked my teacher "What's next? There's still so much more to learn." His reply? "Time to stop asking what's next." I took his advice. I stopped running, stopped trying to fill the hole with more training and started living the teachings. I took time to digest and assimilate all the beautiful, profound wisdom that has been shared with me by my teachers. I move more slowly and deliberately through life. Choosing how I spend my time and energy more carefully has made all the difference.
I'm learning that life is not a race to the finish line. It's a journey of discovery. I never took the time to enjoy life when I was so busy trying to keep up with everyone else. There are still moments when I feel a pang of jealousy when I hear about the training programs other teachers are taking or when someone has the means to quit their job or take a trip to India or whatever. I'm not saying that it's not good to have goals and ambition in life. I'm saying that I'm now questioning my motivation for what I do and considering the benefit verse the sacrifice.
Years ago my oldest got in trouble. I grounded her and sent her to her room without her phone. Several hours later she came downstairs to show me the beautiful tote bag she had sewn. Seems to me that when we can practice being still and holding space we open ourselves up to inspiration and creativity.