Unfolding on the Mat
Expanded Content and Thoughtful Guidance
Mondays are “calendaring” days for me. I sit down with emails, requests, invitations, carpool schedules, and after- school activity times to lay out the week ahead. I find it very satisfying to plot things in on my calendar. I get them lined up perfectly to go seamlessly from one thing to the next, allowing for travel and hiccups. I set up my Waze app to send me notifications for 10-minute warning for when it’s time to leave, taking into account all Austin traffic along my path. I think about what bags I’ll need each day and what goes in them to be sure I have everything I need to stay out as long as needed. And yes, mealtimes and potlucks are accounted for as well.
Like so many of us these days, my Google Calendar is full of colorful blocks. Sometimes very few blank white spaces are left. Most time is accounted for. I used to look ahead trying to find “time off.” When will there be nothing to do? When is my break?
One of my past yoga teachers once said,
“There is no time off. There is only time.”
This I had to chew on for quite a while. I lived for time off! I looked forward to it! Then I realized what I think he was trying to convey.
There is only time. Sometimes we are spending time traveling from one activity to the next. Sometimes we are spending time in our vocation. Sometimes we are spending time preparing. Sometimes we rest. Sometimes we engage with others. Sometimes we serve. All the time, we are spending time. What is different or the same in all of these times? Perhaps it is our presence.
In yoga we “slow down time” by slowing down the breath. The mind begins to settle, the nervous system relaxes, and we have a chance to have a moment of clarity. A chance to really see what is happening in the present moment. In a moment such as this, I remembered the yogic teaching of attachment and aversion. In his commentary on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, (yogic teachings), Sri Swami Satchidananda says,
“We attach ourselves to pleasure because we expect happiness from it, forgetting that happiness is always in [us].” (p 90)
Aversions, on the other hand, evoke strong feelings of dislike, or unhappiness. This leaves us swinging from one side of the pendulum to the other, depending on if we are in a “like” or a “dislike” activity or place in time. Or “like” time off and “dislike” time on!
Now I try to stay tapped in always to my timeless inner experience. In my head it sounds like this: “Now I’m doing this...and Now I’m doing this…” I try to stop looking ahead to when there is nothing happening (because there never is! Even while resting, something is happening) and be present in what Time is offering me now. I remember the “hard times” teach me, and the “good times” nourish me. The “doing” times move life forward, the “resting times” rejuvenate my body and soul. They are not on a scale of good to bad. They all just...are. Happiness, Joy, Ananda, The Kingdom of God--all of this is within--not in the clock or on the calendar. It is unattached to space and time. This is where we are fully present.
Now I try to see calendaring time both as something in and of itself, and as setting up for a successful week. The structure of my week lays out ahead of me, so I can fully live into each moment, just as Time presents it.
Jessica lives, has a family, and teaches yoga in Austin, Texas.