Unfolding on the Mat
Expanded Content and Thoughtful Guidance
Remember how on April 3 I wrote about “building a scaffold in the form of routine to support your day?” How’s that going for you?
Personally, I’m already smiling back at “Early- April Jess” like, “Oh, you think so, do ya? You just wait.” This process has been more like build it, fight for it, struggle with it, let it go...build a new one, fight for it, struggle with it, let it go…
So I guess I’m not building scaffolds. I’m building sand castles. I’m letting go of routine and schedules as I see them get washed away. Only then can I be present with what this time is and has to offer.
I began quarantine time with a schedule including two-hour time frames around rising, eating, moving, working, playing, resting, all posted on a dry erase board. Then I changed it to just a rhythm to the day. Then I dropped the rhythm and it became a checklist. Finally, Havia just erased the whole thing and wrote, “Have a great day!” Yeah, that’s about all we can shoot for.
Each step of letting go has been a surrender of what I wanted to impose on time. (If you’ve been reading my blogs or newsletters for long, you see this is kind of a theme for me. See blog from February 2017) Surrendering to Time seems to be one of the big practices or lessons presenting itself to me during shelter-in-place, and I know I’m not alone in grappling with it. In fact, I believe most, if not all, of us are getting a strong and unavoidable dose of our deep patterns that are ready to be released. (I encourage you to notice what yours are and engage in the struggle and surrender to let them go. If you like, I can help you with this:)
After listening to Rob Bell’s podcast about time last week, I decided to try a total surrender to time over the weekend. I let the day take me where it wanted to go. There was no start and end time to any activity. On Saturday, Havia and I packed a picnic lunch and headed to Campbell’s Hole, a local swimming basin still dry from the winter season. We walked down the path to the greenbelt and started scoping out a spot to sit. But my mind was elsewhere. There is plenty to worry about right now, so I just kept worrying and walking. Then suddenly I realized I wasn’t where we were at all. I couldn’t remember much of the walk down, and I wasn’t seeing what was right in front of me.
So how could I be present with what time was offering when my mind had so much to occupy it?
On my next step I glanced down and saw my foot. Then I remembered to actually SEE my foot. Where was my foot stepping? What did it feel like to step from one rock to the next? For me, being where my feet are grounds me to the present moment and reminds me to surrender to Time in a way that, as Mark Nepo puts it in The Book of Awakening,
“allow[s] [my] time on Earth to be filled and saturated--if just for a few minutes--with a depth of peace that only surrender can open us to.”
And that is exactly what happened. As soon as I clicked into full presence I was able to surrender to what is, and I was indeed filled with a deep sense of peace. I remembered that we only really have THIS step to do. NOW is the only place there is ground beneath our feet and step stones on the path. The future is not laid yet, so there are no stones to step onto. Your foot may hover for a while before it can land, and it can only land when the next stone arrives. Walking this way says, “Be patient. Be present. Have peace.”
There is a wonderful Buddhist practice called Walking Meditation, and it’s where I learned to do this. Now is a good time to do this practice. Go outside. Take your time. Surrender your agenda and your mind to be completely present. Begin to walk, only moving towards a step when you are completely present. If your mind wanders, pause. Wait until you are fully present again. Then you may slowly take the next movement in your step. It's possible you will get caught with your foot hovering for a while!
We did a similar practice to this last week in the class titled, "Presence in Transition." The challenge was to keep your mind on your body and breath even when just going from one pose to the next. (If practicing with others helps keep you present, scroll down for FOUR opportunities for us to practice together this week!)
With these practices you just might find there is deep peace within you, you only have to take it one very slow step at a time. Let the rest wash away.
May you surrender your time to the Time of All and find peace in the present moment.
Jessica lives, has a family, and teaches yoga in Austin, Texas.