The teaser – I left my family.
For 10 whole days.
My longest absence from them since first becoming a mother in 2005. Spoiler alert; everyone survived. I came home to the same number of creatures as we had when I left (this has not always been the case: poor chickens.) Perhaps there was a sheepskin or two that were peed upon, but everyone was still ALIVE. As for me, I THRIVED.
The set up – I had the privilege of leading a 50 hour teacher training module over two consecutive weekends in New York City. After committing to the training, an opportunity came up for me to participate as a student, in an advanced training that was being offered with a teacher that I love, from the Monday-Friday of the week in between. “ Ugh there is no way I can do that. it’s impossible. Why didn’t they post that earlier?” was the refrain in my brain. My instinct was to only see the negative and the impossible. Then I decided to reframe the question. “This is really important to me so how can I make it work? What support would I need to put into place so that I can take this time for myself and further my learning and my practice?”. I made phone calls, reached out to people, and thanks to my network of angels and my wonderfully supportive husband, I was NYC bound for ten days.
The experience – It’s hard to put in words what I found when I was gone, but in a very real sense, I feel like I REDISCOVERED my practice, my center, my purpose, my SELF. Life is so busy. We are all SO busy and pulled in many different directions. I wear many hats during the day: mother, wife, teacher, dog mom, yogi, COO of our household, sister, daughter, friend, PA rep, rescue advocate. Well, you get the idea. Just substitute the titles to see what your personal life demands are, and to get a picture of where your time goes.
In the city, all I had to be responsible for was me. I laid down all those many hats and got to just be ME. The authentic integrated self one can find when all the labels go away. I practiced for hours a day. I dove into theory and proofed it with practice. I felt incredible, available, flexible. Something inside of me shifted. My relationship to time, shifted. There was suddenly enough. I was enough.
The revelation – I came home from my time feeling like I had been on a retreat. In many ways, I truly had. I RE-TREATED myself to me, to this practice of yoga that I love. I was RECOMMITTED in a way that I haven’t been in a while. I had RECONNECTED to my centre, my self, my soul. I was excited to continue feeling this full, this well, this whole.
As a woman and a mother, I can easily fall into the “putting myself last” trap. When things seem urgent and time seems scarce, my practice is something that I can just “get to later” or “only do 20 minutes”, and the worst one, “there’s always tomorrow”.
But that mentality cheats everyone. When I’m not grounded, stable, on my best game, I can’t be my best self and give freely to those around me. It’s the old “put the oxygen mask on yourself before assisting others” adage. When life pulls you in so many directions, you need a practice that RECALIBRATES you, that puts you in the center of your circumstances so that you have a full vision of your life. For me, that practice is yoga, meditation and pranayama.
The remedy – I created a ritual around my home practice. The very nature of a ritual is that it changes things going forward. Now my practice is no longer something that can be pushed aside. Rituals involve the execution of conscious and deliberate actions. With the ritual of time and place and intention, I now seduce myself onto my mat, in the early morning light, before the house is awake, a sacred time just for me. Once there, I am free
to do the hard work, the inner work that is the magic of a long standing yoga practice.
The takeaway – These revelations came to me from my immersion during those 10 days of Deep Work in the city. Deep Work, a book by Cal Newport about the science of productivity, wherein he argues that the best way to get
more meaningful work done is by working deeply – working in a state of high concentration without distractions on a single task. Deep work is what stretches your mind and gives meaning to your life and is the remedy to truly be productive in an increasingly distracted world. Where do you need to do deep work?
I am inspired to be taking this kind of learning with me as I start to plan curriculums for upcoming Kripalu programs as well as work out the theme for my annual Tulum retreat.
With an immersion you can, as Oprah says. give yourself the most valuable gift of time. Time to reset, reform, revolve and evolve both on and off the mat.
Come join me if you can; I have two spots left for my end of March retreat at the beautiful Amansala in Tulum, Mexico. In September, I will be offering a 5 day immersion/training at Kripalu. More info will be in their upcoming catalogue. Or find another retreat or training with a teacher you love or something you have always wanted to learn. Take ONE DAY that you devote to yourself. 24 hours of self care with no distractions can do wonders for the soul. The soul wants to expand. Give it room.
Make time for YOU.