Monday, February 24, 2014

On Busyness

Are you busy? I'm busy. It seems like we're all busy. And when your schedule is busy your mind is busy processing and planning and negotiating it all to make sure it gets done. And that is precisely the trapping of busyness: you get so harried, so scattered, that you can't really focus on anything very well. Your nervous system gets shorted out, your energy reserves get depleted, and you never have enough time and you end up increasingly more and more tired.

I don't think we're alone. In fact, around 200 AD the yoga scholar Patanjali wrote an entire freegin' yoga sutra on the topic. It's the primary source for all the philosophy most of us yogis study. Right at the beginning of this ancient text he states very clearly that the entire purpose for doing yoga is to stop the mind from all its busyness. And that was 1800 years ago before kids' soccer practice, the 9-5, and the 27 other things we have going on during any regular weekday night.

Easier said than done, right? It's like when I get worked up about something, am really upset, and someone comes up to me and gratuitously offers that smidgen of infallible advice, "hey, chill out." Rarely has this advice ever found purchase with me. I imagine myself stopping mid-freakout, relaxing all my tension, and just as that stupid smile of contented relief begins to spread across my face, I say, "Thanks! Why didn't I think of that?" No! I need to work through it. The same goes with busyness. It doesn't work to simply say, stop being so busy all the time. There needs to be a processing, an accounting for the busyness and then maybe we can find some practical and lasting method of stopping the madness.

After a while of running around with your head cut off, if you're like me, you'll take a moment from the craziness and ask if there is a better way of being. Ironically, part of the processes of reducing busyness is getting completely exhausted, completely fed up with busyness, to realize that busyness is counter to who you really are. Maybe, if you're like me, you could take a good honest look at why you make your schedule so busy. A few questions you might ask yourself might be: “Why do I make myself so busy? Am I avoiding something by filling my schedule so full? Who would I be if I weren’t so busy? What are those things in life that mean the most to me?" After asking yourself those questions, you might gain some clarity as to why you’re so busy and then choose to prioritize your energy.

I suppose this is what yoga does for us. Yoga gives us the opportunity for a pause, for reflection, and for focus. It is one of the most practical ways I know of learning to practice being in a place where everything is simplified down to that which makes the most sense, body and breath. Maybe with this simplified perspective, we can take a look at those things on our schedule that don't really serve us and commit to spend some time, meditating, doing some yoga, or catching up on something you never make time for. But what about all the stuff we gotta do for our kids, taking them to this practice, this playdate, this kids' activities? With a little mindfulness and creativity, you'll find a solution for that too. After all, what are we teaching them with all of our busyness? Easier said than done? Maybe. Remember, you have the right to say no sometimes to obligations, even if the only reason is so that you’re not so busy.  

If coming to yoga class is going to be one more thing that busies your schedule, I might suggest take the pressure off of yourself and stay home. Seriously. If you can arrange to come and not have it be "one more thing" to add to an already busy schedule, then I'd love t see you in class this week as we focus together and practice some radical simplification. Maybe we'll gain some clarity on those things on our schedule that don't serve us and could be replaced by something that does.

See you in class, OR NOT.

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