"Hmmm... why rushing?"
This is something I have heard my teacher Sharath Jois say during Led practice while I was in Mysore last October 2016. I can still hear the particular lilt in his voice.
Yes. Why rushing?
Why do we continually rush ahead of ourselves, going, going, going like we are on a treadmill of life? Why do our minds sometime jump ahead to the next thing, the next task, email, event, the next meal?
"In nature, nothing is hurried, yet everything is accomplished." Lao Tzu
Every once in a while I still wish that I followed this advice back when I was deciding whether or not to induce at the end of pregnancy. The outcome may have been eventually the same, or drastically different had I taken a few more days to pause and let nature runs it course.
Of course, there's no knowing now what the result would be, only the reality that I experienced at that time. Still, it has me thinking about my personal tendency to rush things. Growing up in a culture of achieving fast results as quickly as possible has fed this drive to rush. There are times in my life where these tendencies are more magnified than others. More specifically when I am faced with a day packed with too many to-do's and appointments to attend.
Every time I try to rush things, eventually something happens to slow things down. For example, early one Monday morning, I was trying to rush through breakfast while my husband was taking care of the baby. I knew that he had to leave soon to go to work and would be passing on the baby to me for the day. I was hurriedly pouring out a mason jar full of granola into a bowl, and in my haste, the jar slipped, which led to it smashing full tilt into an adjacent glass of water.
Oh that particular tinkling, smashing sound of broken glass everywhere. We both had to pause to clean up the remnants.
Haste makes waste.
So the next time I stepped onto the mat, this event brought me back to the question of why rushing? Especially when it applies to our yoga practice. Why are we so anxious to move onto the next posture, the next series? Does it really matter if we get there or not?
Our lives will not drastically change or be magically better once we can do a posture or move onto the next series. All it means, is that what used to be a "big deal" or "struggle" has shifted.
To live, is not to rush through to the end of the journey of our life, it is to experience life. Both the dark and the light, the struggles and the times we reach the peaks. Balance is not about just savoring the summit, but also each step that has led us there.
It is about practicing non-attachment, to soften and surrender to the process however difficult it may be.
Believe me, when you are ready to take your last breath, you will not be thinking about why you never could do a handstand, jump through or get your legs behind your head... at least I hope these would not be your last thoughts.
Yes, it is easy to not rush when a situation appears to be working smoothly, but can we also learn to pause, to not rush when it seems that this is the only viable option?
As a mother of two teenage girls and a 7 month old, multi tasking is inevitable and often unavoidable. However, I have found that there are days where it is vital to take a pause.
Why do we need to pause? Well, in our culture of earning an honorary badge for our mad skills at multi-tasking, a pause allows us to take a moment to fully be present. To really attend to what is happening right now with all of our senses.
Taking some time to slow things down enough for a pause or a mini meditation throughout the day can vastly improve your productivity, efficiency, and creativity. Not to mention, it can help boost your mood and perception and just may clear some space for you to be able to solve that problem you've been working at for hours.
The benefits of meditation and mindfulness are tangible.
According to a 2013 research study out of University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University a mindfulness practice can shrink the amygdala, the brain's jumpy "fight or flight" center.
Another study conducted at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, found that people who meditate regularly have different patterns of brain electricity, potentially leading to more efficient attention-paying and learning.
Just small steps, a little bit of a pause every day brings more long term, sustainable change than waiting for the next time you can take time off for a yoga retreat.
You don't even need to do anything special or find a guided meditation video or stream to pause. If you can, right now, just take a moment, allow yourself to find a comfortable seat wherever you are, stop reading, begin by inhaling and exhaling more fully, close your eyes and count up to 20 breaths.
You may have noticed the sounds more clearly around you, you may have noticed a cacophony of thoughts, or you may have found a little slice of quiet. Depending on your energy and mood, the experience of this pause will be different day to day.
It is the daily practice of taking a pause, the routine that will bring you closer to the reality of what is happening in this moment.
In the celebration of the pause, I have listed below times where I have found it to be most helpful to take one. Please feel free to share your moments, when a pause is essential or have brought you closer to the joy of being present in the now.
- To pause... to take a breath before lashing out in anger and saying something hurtful you may later regret.
- The importance of the pause... to slow down and gaze into your baby or child's eyes while they are feeding or snuggling in for a hug. There is pure, divine magic in this pause.
- The importance of a pause... to take a moment to listen to baby's fussiness in the middle of the night before rushing to scoop them out of their crib. This pause was incredibly useful advice we first read about in Pamela Druckman's book "Bringing Up Bébé: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting." Our pediatrician also kindly reminded us of this pause. I believe this pause has helped baby discover the essential skill self soothing which has helped her learn how to sleep through the night.
- The importance of a pause... before sitting down to a delicious meal.
- The vital pause... between one scrumptious bite to the next.
- The magical pause... when you reach a destination on a hike and you breathe in the silence, no camera phones, no selfies, just hearts beating, nature and your breath.
- The importance of a pause... to take a moment to really look at our partner, loved one, friend and acknowledge and feel the gratitude and love that arises in this moment.
- The super amazing, awesome pause... to set aside a purchase, whether in person or online that may lead to buyer's remorse later on. I have been practicing this early this year and it has drastically cut down on impulse purchases. Thank you to the minimalist movement!
- The essential pause... the pause to connect to our breath and to take a moment for the opening chant before taking yoga practice.
Start with short pauses. Practice pausing on the weekends.
Unplug. Connect. Do something kind for someone else. Give love fully in these small pauses.
Till then, enjoy these magic moments.