Overbooking my schedule since returning to California has left me tired and overwhelmed. I can never turn down an opportunity, so now I never stop –I leave the house at 8am and come back at 10pm. What have I done to myself?!
It’s in these moments that I appeal to my yoga values. Yoga, in its non dogmatic form is the only philosophy whose moral codes I was able to identify with and slowly make my own.
Aparigraha=Non grasping. Not wanting more. It is the fifth Yama (code of self-restraint) of the Yoga Sūtras, which shapes the Raja Yoga tradition. Aparigraha is my biggest challenge and at the same time my pillar of streght. It gives me mental sanity to know that there is something out there acknowledging my attachments and giving me some sort of guidance. Aparigraha is a call against greediness, against selfish material attachment.
I always wish for more work, more fun, more sun, more yoga, more running, more free time, more food, more travel, more clothes. It’s hugely important to know that we have enough. There is no universal gauge of “enough” though; we have to create it ourselves by setting boundaries and accepting what we already have.
Especially for those of us who are obsessive in their personality, overachievers or workaholics, non-grasping is a challenging daily practice. Because we always want more, for better of or worse. And we can’t let go of the thought that if did have more, if we did teach that extra class, if we had gone to that extra dinner, or we had worked that extra shift we would be better off. And then we start to reminisce bitterly on how we totally missed out. We get FOMO=Fear of Missing Out. The truth is, we did just the right amount. There’s an unshakable sense of peace that comes from no longer directing your energy into wanting more.
It’s Hard to Say No
Scaling down actually takes just as much effort if not more. It’s a commitment in and of itself. I often find myself thinking “I can’t afford not to make that extra cash”. Well now I know that the extra sleep, a log run and a smile on my face are worth the extra $50 I lost by not working those extra hours.
As my friend Alison once said, “Do push yourself, but don’t push yourself over the edge of a cliff”
Sometimes I feel like we are expected to be busy and stressed, because it means we are being productive and successful. I hear this conversation all the time at yoga studios: “How have you been?” “Busy. Stressed. I’ve got a lot going on. I can’t sleep. It’s crazy. My fill-in-the-blank are so tight (sigh)”. Hardly do you ever hear: “Good, I’m working,I am well rested, relaxed, and enjoying myself between engagement and having fun”. I want to be the person that gives that answer.
Less is More
I want to back away from this madness. I’d rather have less money, less stress and more time. It sounds lazy doesn’t it? It goes against all values of a consumer driven society. And the Catholic guilt ridden tradition that I’m all too familiar with. You want to work less? Sacrilege! Deadly sin! Shame on you for your slothy behavior.
But I don’t want to be so busy that I forget to answer friend’s emails. I don’t want to be overworked to the point where I see double on the computer screen. There is value to slowing down, to not produce all the time. So much is happening internally into our bodies at rest. While the benefits aren’t visible to the eye and don’t bank cash, calm moments allow us to recharge energetically, absorb information and regenerate muscle tissue.
After trying both the “less” and the “more” lifestyles, I have absolutely no doubt that I will pursue less rather than more.
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