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Embodied Rituals for Skin + Soul

And now for something completely new...

Katie Gordon

As many of you know, I just moved back to Boston in March (I can't believe it's already been two months!) and am trying to adapt to the pace of the city once again.  It's been challenging.  Luckily I have awesome teachers and even awesomer friends (yes that's a word now) who have been wonderful in easing this transition, and when necessary, brutally honest in telling me when I'm not doing such a great job.  Like yesterday when one of them lovingly told me "You don't look good.  You need to take care of yourself."  I told her, "I'm trying."  To which she said, "Stop trying.  Just be."  So today was my first attempt at doing nothing.  And  I kinda suck at it. I started out sleeping in as late as I could.  I made it until 8 a.m. before hunger and a caffeine addiction forced me out of bed.  On the plus side, at least I didn't set an alarm this morning.  Baby steps, guys.  After a fairly leisurely breakfast, I walked to the coffee shop down the street where I started out reading a book over coffee, but then quickly found myself pouring over my anatomy notes.  I probably should have left those at home.

After running some errands around town, I came home and managed to take it pretty easy, made myself some tea, read a bit, and did some mellow yoga.  Every time I thought about actually doing nothing, though, I started getting anxiety.  "Why?" I asked myself.  What would it really mean to sit and do nothing for even a few minutes?  I realized that for me, there's a certain amount of guilt attached to it.  I should be working, studying, cleaning something, organizing, reading, doing.  After all, there's so much to do, right?  But is there really?  Why do we always have to be doing?

Now, I'll admit it, I don't have the patience to read a lot of those articles in Yoga Journal and similar publications that talk about dharma, meditation, etc.  Some day I hope to be one of those people that does.  It's something I'm working on.  I love reading, but trying to wrap my head around some of the concepts sometimes leaves me feeling like I'll never be as good at life as the person writing this article.  So for those of you like me, who see all those pages of writing and think "I'll come back to this article later...," I'll make this short.

We could argue that it's our society, our culture, teachers, or our parents/families that instill this "doing" pattern in us from a young age.  That pattern to always be doing, accomplishing, being productive.  And that may or may not be true.  But so what?  How long can we hide behind that argument.  Even if it is true, it'll only get us so far in our journey.  Understanding where our beliefs come from is only half the battle.  The rest is about reclaiming our Self.  That which is deeper than our patterns, belief systems, what we've been programmed to do.

Today I learned that sometimes you have to be ok with doing nothing for your own health and sanity.  With not trying, but just being.  Breathing.  Because otherwise we'll just keep spinning our wheels, getting nowhere faster.  They call this a practice.  Because sometimes it sucks at first.  But I've started to notice that the things, emotions, thoughts that come up are meaningful and each tell me something about the way I think of myself.  It's a work in progress, and I'll chip away at it a bit each day.  Some days I'm sure will feel great, and others will probably feel some form of terrible.  I'll let you know how it goes.  See now that wasn't too long, right?