I had a yoga teacher who loved to rib the class about all the activity that would start after (or before) a really tough pose:
“It’s amazing how thirsty everyone gets, how it becomes time to fix your hair or tuck in a t-shirt or towel off…”
He liked to remind us that yoga was all about the transitions – that anyone could muscle through a pose and hang on for a few seconds or a minute. Yoga is about what comes in between, what comes before and after, as a reflection of who you are in the pose.
Taking that out of the studio….
A few weeks ago I mentioned that I’ve made the miniscule commitment to stop automatically looking at my iPhone every time I get in an elevator. What bothered me about it was the “automatically” not the “looking.” That is, the troubling piece is a reflexive notion that time in an elevator or on a train platform or (much worse) walking down the street is down time with nothing to do, so the only sensible thing is to check your email.
Let’s be real about this: there’s a mountain of work to do. Furthermore, since you’re doing something worth doing that means you want to put your heart and soul into this work. So you work hard, you give more, and you want to and should keep up.
But that’s not the same thing as: “every ‘free’ moment I have is best spent chipping away at an unconquerable mountain of email.” That’s the professional equivalent of muscling through the pose – the notion that you’re going through the world forever struggling to keep up. Plus, take that to its logical conclusion and at some point you’ve given up on every last moment of quiet, of reflection, of noticing the day and the sun shining and other human beings walking down the street or riding the subway with you. There’s something real there too.
I struggle with this tremendously and I fall short often. What I strive for is being intentional and being present. That’s not never using my iPhone, nor is it mindlessly app-flipping every time I have 30 seconds to spare.