Wrong Places & Wrong Times

 

I am at a yoga retreat a couple of weeks ago; one that I have been very much looking forward to as a way of not only deepening my own practice, but as importantly, affording me an opportunity to connect with others over something that means a lot to me, in a time out of time sacred setting. So, to say that I was taken aback by the nearly constant presence of smart phones and tablets across the weekend would be a massive understatement.

It begins and ends with the smart phone that sat on my teacher’s mat before him as we practiced, and then wound up being fiddled with in his hands during teaching sessions. It continues with the participants who immediately reach for their phones as soon as the morning practice is over. It shows up at the lunch break as the devices replace the beautiful outdoor setting, conversations with others, and time spent alone in silence. It creeps in during our afternoon talks as the woman next to me checks her messages, and at one point watches a video.

Across the weekend, three of the women spend a good deal of their break time sitting on a couch together sending each other pictures and comments about the amazing time we are having together. On the night that there was talk about a fire gathering outside, nothing materializes as too many of our little group are actively involved with what is coming across their screens. And on the last day, as we are walking down the driveway heading out for a short and known walk, several people have a gasp response when they realize that they do not have their phones on them. Not to worry, the teacher has his.

What reveals itself here is that despite all that we believe can happen via the technologies, there is so very much more that is not happening and that is never being given a chance to happen. Things are being lost without the recognition that we are losing them. Things like the impromptu conversations that take you somewhere you could not get to on your own. Things like the quiet reflection of nature and what it might reveal to you, or in you. Things like the universal knowing that there is a time and a place for everything, and that if we allow the technologies domination over all of our spaces, our losses will be too vast for words, and ultimately, too enormous to live with.

Where are you allowing wrong place, wrong time scenarios in your life with the technologies?

Letting Go

 

We are on the brink of a seasonal letting go. A time when the brighter, hotter, busier and more outward energy of summer will give over to the softer, cooler, slower and more inward energy of fall. Nothing in the natural world clings, fights, resents, or laments when it’s time is up. Day gives way to night. Summer gives way to fall. Blooms give way to seed. Leaves give way to their role as fodder for the next year’s growth.

Equally, we as human beings will always have things to let go of; old shoes, rotten food, household clutter, the breath, relationships, and ways of being that no longer serve us. Truly, the list is far too vast and continuous to capture in words. And still, we resist letting go of things we have a strong attachment to. We hold on when we don’t know what will happen next. At times we do let go of our grip only because it has become so glaringly obvious or painful that whatever it is just has to go. And then, of course, there are the times when things gets ripped from us without our permission or consent.

But what if there was a way to begin to cultivate an appreciation, along with a skill set, that allowed for a more conscious response to life in this regard; one that recognized that letting go regularly throughout our lives is as necessary, and ultimately easy, as letting go of one breath in order to make room for the next one to come in?

Swami Kripalu, a wise yogic master, once said that a yogi dies a little bit each day, and then death becomes the next thing. This “dying” that he refers to is not only death in the literal sense, it speaks also to all of the little and big releases we are required to make across a lifetime. When we can loosen a little bit of our hold on life, we not only prepare for the ultimate and unavoidable and big letting go, but as importantly, we make room in life for more ease and more alignment with the realities of life.

If we want some help learning the ins and outs of letting go naturally, rhythmically and cyclically let us look to those forms that know not only how to let go when the time is ripe, but equally how to fully inhabit and express the life they were given when their time is here. Each and every one of us will let go many, many times in one lifetime whether we want to or not. Each and every one of us will let go one last and final time. Why not choose to know this as the approach to living more fully, gracefully and truthfully?

Deprivation

 

Deprivation. The state of something being withheld. Most of us have strong feelings and associations about being deprived. Some of us using deprivation to punish ourselves. Others of us going to great lengths to avoid the experience of going without at all costs.

But, what if there is another way to think about this? What if the act of renouncing something was purposeful, conscious and meaningful? What if it was done for a greater aim or perspective? What if some distance from what we regularly, habitually and unconsciously do might benefit from some separation?

I have been fasting once a month for upwards of 36 hours since April. My plan is to do this until May of 2018 as preparation for a vision quest I will be doing at that time. As so many things go, I got into this for one reason, but have found many, many more reasons, side effects, and benefits along the way. And so, while I am doing this to prepare physically, mentally, and spiritually for a longer duration of fasting, this intention may be the least of what I gain from this experience. In short, fasting has brought me up against my relationship to hunger in all of its forms, how I use food in ways that are not supportive, and what it is that I do when I have needs that the world is not satisfying.

What do you habitually, regularly and unconsciously do that could benefit from some separation? Gossip? Screen time? Criticism? Alcohol? Sugar? Coffee? Judgment? Where do you overindulge? And while yes, there will be discomfort; physical, emotional and mental, and while yes, because of how we have been conditioned it might feel like punishment, it is anything but.

P.S. This is one of those things that you can only learn by doing. Or not doing, as the case may be.