I don't have TIME.
Truth: When I sat down to work on this week's Wellness Wednesday, I actually wanted to do anything but write about wellness. In fact, throwing my computer across the room to instead curl up in a ball and take a hundred year nap sounded pretty, pretty sa-weet.
For about a month now, I have been trying to work my way through What the Health, the recently trending documentary on Netflix, to share my thoughts for Wellness Wednesday. To be honest (again) I'm having a hell of a time watching that thing. So far I have notes scribbled in angry, harsh strokes that are less than glowing. I swear I'll finish it eventually, but I'm giving myself the proper time to work through it.
Which brings us back to this moment and this week's Wellness Wednesday. And the Nothing.
I had no desire to watch What the Health.
I couldn't think of anything I felt like writing about.
Frankly, recently I've been spread so thin that I constantly feel I have very little extra to give. Wah. I know.
Listen. I get it.
I am not alone.
I know y'all are working really hard, too. There never seems to be enough time in the day, and we're left feeling empty.
Nothing new here. We know we're overworked, oversocialized, and over-available.
My cell phone is my friend-box (to quote one Alex Jamieson) and my nemesis.
The other day I went on a walk with a friend, and my phone came along in my backpack (which I'd brought with me for water/my keys/my bike lock). I wasn't 100% present, making plans for a party the following day and fielding calls intermittently, which really is a shame because this friend is a kindred spirit and deserves my undivided attention. I deserve to give her my undivided attention as the reward is so great for both of us.
Who misses the days when voicemail was beeping for you when you got home and not vibrating in your pocket?
It's like... no... I like having it right now but I HATE having it right now.
This is the headspace I got into as I sat down to write: My alarm didn't go off this morning and so I was an hour and 17 minutes late. I have seven chapters of schoolwork to study. I have a book to write and rewrite and refine and finish. I have photoshoots to prepare for. I have website edits to make. I have seven yoga classes to teach and prep for. Be a good daughter. Be a good girlfriend. Be a good friend friend. Clean the kitchen. Do laundry. Send birthday cards (damn, that's a month overdue). Make cheesecake. Make and freeze smoothies. Exercise. Let the dog out. Figure out a Halloween costume. Print out and sign and return bank documents. Send those invoices. Invent a cashew alfredo. Work on two upcoming presentations. Take a shower.
I DON'T HAVE TIME TO TAKE A SHOWER.
I don't have time to take a shower?
Again. Wah. I know. But listen: sometimes I give myself a hard time for having a hard time.
Do you ever do that?
Hi. I'm Brittany, and I am a wellness expert. I teach yoga and work with women to love the food they eat, live the life they love, and ditch guilt and regret. A HUGE part of that is that I MUST LIVE THE LIFE I LOVE, and I sure as hell can't be feeling guilty or regretful.
If I'm not loving what I'm doing: why am I doing it?!
There's a Zen proverb I absolutely adore:
"You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day—unless you're too busy. Then you should sit for an hour."
I've been working on letting things go recently. Not things as-in tangible objects, though some of those apply, as well (see my scale from last week's edition); instead, I've been working on letting go the things that are exhausting my energy.
Things that I do or hold space for in my life that are no longer serving me.
This sounds selfish, but the truth is we often hold onto things in our lives longer than is necessary. Longer than serves us. Longer than serves the things we're holding. They become toxic. We may become toxic to them.
This is where yoga off the mat comes into play.
Along with the physical practices of yoga, we have the philosophical study, and the foundations of yogic thought are held in the yamas and niyamas.
These foundational guidelines are like a recipe for a satisfying meal for your soul.
Aparigraha, or non-attachment/non-possessiveness, is what I'm talking about here. It's one of my favorite yoga off (and on) the mat practices. The easiest way to remember this yama is to simply focus on the phrase: let it go.
How challenging do you find it to drop EVERYTHING?
From the intro to this post, you can tell that I, too, struggle with this one.
Aparigraha invites us to be present to live in this very moment, always being willing to let things change and grow and move on.
This moment? This one. Oops. It passed.
There is goes again.
Example: Think about your breath. If you inhale fully and deeply and hold onto that inhale, you're limited on how long you can hold that breath—eventually, you're gonna have to exhale. Otherwise, that air becomes toxic. You'll suffocate.
But you aren't a masochist—unless you're driving by a cemetery, through a tunnel, or attempting to stop hiccoughs, you don't try to hold onto each inhale. You don't hang onto each breath, scared that the next one might not be as good or as filling or as satisfying.
You just breathe.
You don't even THINK about it. You fall into the realm of sleep, completely surrendering into relaxation because, unless you have sleep apnea, you fully trust that your breath will BE there.
The breath is a very concise example, but we can look at the abstract, too.
Think of a dream you had as a child. Something you wanted so, so badly.
Me? For a while there I REALLY wanted to be an astronaut. I was a Young Astronaut, and I flew (simulaited) missions to Mars as the navigator several times at NASA. I don't remember ever deciding that I didn't want to be an astronaut anymore, but that is the beauty of the childlike ability to go along with the flow of life. It's not like I said “I want to be an astronaut,” and then stuck to my guns come hell or high water, proving some point to myself or the world or whoever.
Something about being an adult changes all of that.
We create our own prisons, the bars made of all of the things we once said we were going to do, that for some reason or another we feel we MUST cling to.
We cling to desires we once held, problems that we have with other people, issues we have with ourselves.
We cling to stories we've told ourselves and others about who we are.
Whatever we cling to and possess eventually begins to possess us.
Did you ever see that movie 50 First Dates?
Recap in case you didn’t or you’re a little foggy on the details of this claaaaaassic film: The premise is that Drew Barrymore's character has this mental condition that causes her to wake up every single day, forgetting that the previous day happened. Which is like… basically, the obstacle that Adam Sandler has to come over to win her heart (every single day for the rest of their lives).
But… Drew Barrymore’s character has the medical equivalence of aparigraha.
What if we could wake up every single day with a clean slate?
It's asking a lot, I know. Hell, you can wake up with a sense of attachment to the dream you had the night before, but therein lies the practice.
Now, this doesn't mean that you don't care.
Being unattached means that you are actually completely absorbed in the present moment and the thing that is before you. Just like with the breath, when we release we create space for more to come in. A huge exhale creates so much space for a generous inhale.
We can also practice letting go of the people, places, and things that are no longer serving us.
What do we truly have to do in this moment?
What things on that to-do list are actually present, now?
What things on that list are even within my control?
Definitely the shower.
What would you like to let go of?
Because, as my yoga mentor once told me:
If you don't have a full well, then you have nothing to give.
Fill up that well, friend. You deserve it.