Yesterday, I created a new series of postures which I will call The White Rabbit.
Now, I don’t mean to imply that my practice yesterday morning was so psychedelic that I had a Jefferson Airplane-type “Alice” experience and fell down a hole and was getting bigger and smaller and having philosophical conversations with extremely high caterpillars. Though, if I had slowed down enough, that might have happened.
Unfortunately, yesterday on the mat, I found myself rushing through my practice. Nope, not flow practice. This was, sun salutation on rapid fire, triangle that was so fast, it looked more like a rhombus and twists that could have given most people whiplash. As a matter of fact, it’s quite possible I gave myself mental whiplash.
Even as I was in these postures, I wasn’t even focusing on my breathing; I was focusing on the NEXT posture.
Now, I feel it takes a very humble person to admit this: My practice is so, NOT perfect.
But I am so, NOT perfect.
I caught myself not being in the present moment in my practice. I was rushing through it, heading for God/dess knows where.
Yesterday was Saturday, where on Earth did I have to be? In the shower? Hanging the bed sheets on the line? Staring aimlessly out the window? Making a grocery list?
I had time and space to myself (Mason was outside in the refreshingly cooler morning temps and Scott was teaching a yoga class). Wah! was serenading me about Devotion in Motion and I was rushing through my practice like my ass was on fire. Running to?
If I can’t be present in the one thing that brings me back to the present then there might be a serious problem.
I kept seeing this vision of the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland in a waistcoat, bifocals and a pocket watch. In my vision, as I moved into forward bend, he was shaking his little white paw at me and saying in a condescending British accent, “Naughty, Naughty.”
I wondered if the Buddha ever had the feeling he needed to rush through sitting under the Bodhi tree and hurry and get to the enlightenment thing.
Betcha the great guru didn’t even own a watch/sundial or whatever the appropriate time piece would be of the time.
Observation is a powerful tool. And as soon as I realized what I was doing, I stopped. I didn’t condemn myself. I simply stood on my mat placed my hands together near my heart and let out a giant laugh. I took a deep breath and shooed all the angst and anxiety and crazy “gotta go” energy out of my system by laughing at the absurdity of it. I laughed it all away. Rather than starting over from the beginning, I started where I was – completely in the present – and began from there. Now I moved and breathed with presence. I felt the breath, I felt the tightness and I recognized the resistance and I sent it love, love, love.
Lessons learned on the mat.
Setting the tone for the rest of the day, I set my intention at the close of my practice. Because, to be perfectly honest, I was so crazy, monkey-minded, rushy-rushy, I could not EVEN tell you what intention I had set at the beginning of my practice.
Yet another, very humble and difficult thing to admit.
I was determined to change this crazy energy that I had created in the time that I carve out as sacred. At first, there was this tendency to want to slap myself around about it mentally. But I quickly told my ego to sit down and have a cold beer, because we really would not be doing that today. I intended to change it. With most intentions, life will offer you what you intend.
So, later that afternoon, there I was at Earth Fare (for those of you NOT in S/N Carolina Earth Fare = Whole Foods type store). It was Saturday afternoon. It was packed. Usually this is a disaster for all of us in my little family because we all usually freak out because of the crowd, end up rushing through the shopping trip and inevitably forget something. So after we parked the car, I said to everyone, “Okay, it’s nuts, it’s packed, but let’s be present with it. Let’s take our time, enjoy the sights and sounds and not get caught up in the frenetic energy.” Everyone agreed and we even giggled as I almost got run over by a car speeding recklessly through the parking lot. I sent the driver peace and said Namaste’ as I jumped out of the way.
But a crazy thing happened. We had an amazing experience in the store, when in the past we would have run out screaming. We reconnected with a fellow yogi and met some new people who we chatted with about foods and events and South Carolina and life, etc. We left the store smiling. Even Mason who is usually at his wits end if we have to buy more than five things was smiling and wasn’t screaming to wait in the car. The energy had shifted.
In Dan Millman’s book Way of the Peaceful Warrior, the main character Dan is constantly challenged by his teacher to be in the present moment. One of my favorite exchanges from the book is when Socrates asks Dan what time it is and Dan looks at his watch and responds with the hour and minutes. Of course this is NOT what Socrates is asking him. Finally, after numerous exchanges over many months, Dan finally “gets it.” Socrates asks Dan, “Where are you Dan?”
Dan replies with “HERE!”
Socrates then asks, “What time is it?” and Dan responds with “NOW.”
Finally Socrates asks, “What are you?” and Dan responds with “THIS MOMENT.”
We are this moment. All we ever really have is this moment. I said this once to my mom and she told me I was being depressing. I don’t think it is depressing. We have this moment, but wait, this moment has flowed into the next, which flows into the next. We live in the moment but we flow into the next like a wave. If we are fully present, we never miss being here, and being now. If we ride the wave, we become the wave.
There are moments where I have perfect and divine clarity. I am washing the dishes and I am in the moment, I am doing laundry in the moment, I am designing a flyer or newsletter, I am in the moment; I am writing this blog – you guessed it – in the moment. But I think with the yoga, I took it for granted that I should have been in the moment because it was, well Yoga. Where the heck else would I be? Flying down a rabbit hole looking for a tea party I guess.
I realized that I was taking my often frenetic and hurried energy that I have during the work week and was bringing it into the weekend. There are no deadlines on the weekend, but there is this sense of urgency I suppose of wanting to get things done and taking time to pursue creative efforts. But why rush?
So I am flipping it all around. I am bringing the sense of calm flow that should be associated with the weekend and bringing it into the week. Maybe it means getting up even a little earlier. Maybe it means slowing down. But I think what it really means is being in the present, especially during the work week. If we create that sense of presence in the most harried times, it will flow naturally in the slower times. If we be in the moment and flow to the next, on the wave of presence and tranquilly, ideally we can surf through life, be aware of the rocks, and embrace the falls and tumbles with dignity, peace and presence.
What time is it?
It is now.
And there is no time like the present.