Hey there, Dear Yogi,
How are you feeling?
Close your eyes, breathe deep. What do you sense in your body?
For a long time I felt a sense of urgency. Do you ever feel this? Not the fun kind in which you’re excited to get all your ideas out on paper or when you’re bursting with news to share. I’m thinking about Time Urgency in which you have to get a certain amount of tasks (enormous, tiny, complex, and simple) completed before time is up! And that timer can be anything: the baby’s nap, the deadline, the reservation, the family’s dinner, the board meeting, the presentation, the teacher’s meeting, the test, the class change, the committee meeting, the bell, The Meeting, the clock.
Types of Clocks
I still feel it now, though not as intensely and not as often. And not because I’m evolved or enlightened, but because time has passed, and I have don’t have babies anymore. But if I did, I’d tell myself to hurry up and rest.
Back then I raced the “baby-clock” in Every Single Thing I Did: yoga asana, laundry, meditation, dinner prep, reading, tidying, writing, sweeping, posting, lesson planning, planting, grading, visiting, sending, gathering. The baby-clock looks like this: until the baby wakes, until the baby cries, until the baby wakes, until the baby cries, and on like this day after night after day after night.
Time passes and the toddler-clock looks like this: until the educational tv show is over, until the toys are boring, until someone gets hurts, until someone gets angry, until someone gets hungry, until someone screams, and on like this day after night after day after night. And all the urgent tasks are scattered throughout. Half done.
The little kid and big kid clocks look more like this: time for soccer, time for piano, time for games, time for a date with mom, time for violin, time for rehearsal, time for church, time for school, time for play, time for tv, time for silent reading. And also, time for breakfast, time for snack, time for lunch, time for snack, time for dinner, time for snack, time for bath, time for bed.
I answered all these clocks in the obvious and necessary ways for a long time. Then my answer to the kid-clock slowly grew (along with my children’s age, capability, and reason) into little bits of silence: “Mom’s not answering you because she’s meditating.” And this: “Mom, why are you upside down?”
Cultural Expectation (?)
I did rest a lot. But I kinda wish I’d have rested more back then, and not just my body, but my mind. The sense of time urgency was largely in my mind. I wanted to get everything done everyday. The urgency to produce and do it efficiently was heavy and oppressive. Produce anything: a folded load of laundry, a meal, a clean room, a poem, a journal entry, a completed lesson plan, a smiling baby, a plate of cookies, an empty trash can, a graded stack of essays, a happy family, a successful class. All my worth was tied up in it, even when I told myself that simply growing and raising human beings was enough, that simply showing up was enough. Efficient Productivity Loomed.
I don’t know why this was such a part of my way of being, but my guess is that western culture saturates us with the idea that our worth is based on how much we can produce and whether or not we can produce it efficiently. Can we do it better, cheaper, faster? Try. Can you make your family happier? Try. Can you get more papers graded in less time? Try. Can you clean, cook, plan, and create at the same time? Try!
Hurry Up & Rest
If there’s a sense of urgency now, while I have big-kid-clocks and young-adult-clocks all around me, it’s this: sit down, rest, stand up, rest, turn upside down, rest, lie down, rest. Practicing ease, allowing, and unfolding helps me do this. I’m inviting you to find rest alongside me.
It’s good to remember that rest doesn’t necessarily mean sitting down, lying down, sleeping, napping, “doing nothing,” or “just being.” Play is really, really, really good rest. So, I’m inviting you to play, too. Play piano, play painting, play yoga, play ball, play games, play meditation, play climbing trees, play knitting, play visiting, play telling jokes, anything just for the fun of it.
To practice being restful rather than being productive every waking moment and even in your sleep, consider recommitting to your sabbath practice or your dedicated time-off. Or try pausing for a moment to consider what is necessary, then do that one thing and leave the rest. This section is not about time management. This section will invite you to notice how you value your time and how you value yourself. After a couple days of practice, you might begin to shift, just a little, the way you move through the world.
Your unique set of circumstances will affect how the details shake out for you, but here are a few ideas to get you started. Try one that seems supportive or interesting, or try them all over a couple of weeks.
- When pressed for time with a lot to do, ask for help. (Crazy, right?)
- If faced with a daunting to-do list (that might be partly self-imposed), decide in the morning what is necessary for today, and what can shift to tomorrow.
- Ask yourself what you value most in any given day. Take 3-5 minutes to journal or sketch about this and allow your answers to inform your choices for the next 24 hours.
- Notice if you experience a resistance to resting or if you crave it, or both. When you rest do you feel bored, unproductive, or worth less? Do you notice a sense of receiving, renewing, or ease? There’s no right answer. Any answer will supply you with interesting information.
- Do you experience a sense of all or nothing, either work, work, work, or rest, rest, rest? What would it be like to work a bit then rest a bit? What do you allow yourself to do when you’re “on vacation” but not when you’re “at home?”
- If you have an aversion to “being unproductive,” consider the perspective that resting will make you more productive in the long run. Not the purpose of this practice, of course, but it just might get you to experiment with resting and see what it’s like!
- Find an accountability partner. Check in with each other to support adding a dose of restfulness to your days.
No matter how productive we want to be, no matter how much we want the to-do list checked off, there are just some things that have to unfold in their own time. So maybe consider allowing things to unfold. Remember, you can’t feed the kids breakfast before they’ve had dinner.
Happy Resting, Happy Playing,
The Universal Yogi
PS – I forgot the pet-clock! There’s a pet-clock, too, the puppy-clock, the aquarium clock, the list goes on!