A few months ago, I was at a yoga event where I ran into someone I hadn’t seen for quite some time. We had an extremely short exchange. I said, ‘hello, how’s it going’. They responded, “so busy. I’m really busy teaching. Just really busy”. In about 1 minute, they were able to sum up all their commitments, then hurry off to take their yoga class. Beside the fact that there was so much irony being at a yoga event where regardless of the yoga topic being presented, the common denominator is to pay attention. To pay attention means slow down. Paying attention means that details are considered. All sorts of subtleties are revealed. We move slower, actively listen, and most important pay attention to what is actually happening in the present moment without time traveling. Worth even more of a mention, the space in between events is acknowledged which means the quality of the experiences we are having increase.
I often stress the importance of creating space in life… This is especially important this time of year when we tend to over-book in attempt to close off the year without carrying the past over into the new year. Without a doubt, space will show up in life if we make room for it. Space allows us to expand, explore, get rooted, and stabilize. Space is the catalyst for wellbeing. Without space, the density of stagnation is what sets the foundation for the manifestation of disease and pain. Without space, it is impossible to be present for the ones we love, especially if we are not prioritizing ourselves.
Quality increases when we slow down.. Just like in yoga transitions, we have loads of opportunity to do this as well. Right now, vinyasa yoga is the hot trend. Most don’t teach or practice it the way it was meant to be taught- postures informed by breath; breath revealing energetic intelligence; the length of a breath cycle dictating the time spent transitioning between asanas. Overstimulating circumstances such as excessive heat, music, fast and complicated routines not only inspire distraction within the body of the class, but the energetic imbalances this sort of diffusion encourages reinforces instability. As a result, our yoga practice becomes the tool to reinforce the unstable qualities, as opposed to increase the qualities that create awareness.
No different than yoga transitions, in life we have the transitional moments… Quiet space, transition, places to be still, reflect, and indulge in the present moment we often neglect. I used to be just like many- over committed, always planning, living in the future, not feeling complete, all while also teaching yoga. Then one day, it really hit me how fast life goes. Its hard to really acknowledge that when you are deeply invested in your commitments. I began to notice that as soon as my week began it would be almost over. I could always clearly reflect on what had happened the day or year before. It would feel like it just happened. Deadlines would just come so fast. One of my teachers told me a good measurement of time is to watch how fast your children grow. That made it very real. After all, I can remember being 5 years old like it was yesterday… and I’m 38.
Under my ‘yoga job’, I have quite a few commitments (yoga teacher/trainer/mentor/ private instruction/ MYS Editor/Website Navigator-too many roles to list)- all of which I love and am deeply committed to. In order to do them all and do them all well, I’ve had to learn a few techniques that help me create more free time, but more importantly, help the quality of my present tense life experiences glow.
6 things I do to widen the gap between my commitments:
1. Create time buffers. When I have full days, which is often, I make sure to pad my schedule with plenty of time between. I didn’t always do this. This came about after the realization that not only did my day feel like a blur, but my week did too– Morning turned into bedtime; Monday night became Saturday morning. I didn’t like this. I realize life is short and if I spend my time booking myself full, without quality time in between, I was going to be 90 years old before I knew it.
2. I don’t over schedule myself. I have a set number of meetings per day/week (phone, lunch, in-person), that I will not surpass. Integrity is key and I hold myself accountable with my calendar.
3. Cut myself off. I make sure that I work within the time frame of the work hours I have on my daily calendar & call it a day when its time to end. Besides, the work will still be there the next day.
4. Self Care: I have a non-negotiable daily early morning yoga & meditation sadhana (practice). In the past, when I would skip and plan to carve out time later in the day, it just wouldn’t happen. So, its the first thing I do always.
This includes cooking. I always make my meals, with exception of extracurricular dinner dates (mostly weekends), or if I indulge in the luxury of a juice from the juice bar inside the yoga studio I teach at. I add this in to my ‘schedule’, because self care is imperative to quality. If I don’t take care of myself, I know that anything I’m committed to will be half-ass quality.
5. Less is more. Prioritize what you absolutely need to do each day and clear your schedule of the rest. So key during the holiday season. This is the time of year where according to Ayurveda, we should be hunkering down. Because of holidays and festivities, we fall victim to the fast pace of the season, ending up burning the candle at both ends. This leaves little energy for ourselves and the ones we love. So, do less and be more.
6. Meditate. Every. Single. Day! Here’s exactly what I do: brush my teeth, tongue scrape, wash my face, grab my big sweater coat, sit on the floor, and close my eyes. Its sets the tone of my day doing it first thing. I find if I wait to meditate, too many things have occurred and it is difficult to settle down.
As a result of how I manage my time, I have more time. I’ve become more efficient at my commitments and the space between continues to increase revealing more free time. I walk my dogs a few times a day. Read daily. Experiment in the kitchen outside of just my meal making. Oh and sometimes I do absolutely nothing and I love it.
Create space to make positive changes.
We have plenty of opportunities and remember that every component of your life, you choose. Its all a choice. Start small…
-Turn off the radio & don’t talk on the phone when you commute. See what you notice- every light, every road sign, other vehicles, every little moment it takes to get to the final destination. A college professor of mine once said that those who are continuously engaging, are afraid to be alone with themselves.
-Learn how to say no. Its an art for sure, but it will free up time for those of you who overcommit. Be okay with the fact that you can’t do everything or be everywhere. That’s energetically depleting and the goal is to see more space and be more whole, so say NO!
-Take 15 minute breaks before and after your daily appointments. Doesn’t sound like much, but if you don’t do this now, try it. Those breaks add up to hours.
-Consolidate your errand running. If you grocery shop multiple times a week, plan your week and choose a day to shop. (I know I just contradicted myself as this involves future planning. Sometimes you just have to!). Better yet, join a Food Co-op Delivery service. Order from the comfort of home, and have it delivered to your front door.
These are just some ideas. Just try one. Start small and reap the rewards of quality time and the experience of space between things. After all, life is short and it flies by. Just check out a little person in your life and remember when they were even younger. Make the most of every moment. Slow down.