The high today is 90. Summertime in Durham, North Carolina (please read this with a southern accent)...sigh! My personal practice has been trying to stay cool in the heat the last couple of weeks as our temperatures have been rising. I have also been ramping up my asana practice, which is nice and hot (partly due to practicing at Hotasana near Southpoint in 100 degrees and partly due the heat and humidity that is settling in for the season). I LOVE me some heat while I am doing yoga. I HATE me some heat while I am trying to live a normal life off my mat.
But, Jessica, don't we practice on our mats so that we can carry our lessons off of our mats into our everyday lives?
Well, yes. Yes, we do, but for some reason even though I love dripping sweat at the studio, dripping sweat at the grocery store, in the car, or at a restaurant is just not as fun! Traffic in cool weather = opportunity to slow down and smile. Traffic in hot weather = everyone is evil and I hate everything.
This past week, I have been practicing finding space, taking breaks, going with the flow (albeit hot), and staying cool (mentally and emotionally).
Finding space: As I was frantically trying to get some grocery shopping done the other day (not finding anything, getting frustrated with the lack of help and my own lack of grocery-shopping abilities), I felt my blood start to boil! I became more and more frustrated, and I had to find some space...immediately! Mental space, and just space space. I had to get out of the grocery store! So, that's what I did. I took some deep deep breaths. I breathed in and cleared my mind. I let my breath go and relaxed while maintaining that openness and clarity. This mini-breath meditation helped me a lot! It also helped a lot to leave Harris Teeter.
Taking Breaks: Sometimes when you're too hot (physically and mentally), it's a really good idea to take breaks. I find this to be the case in my asana practice and in my daily life. I try to keep things at a manageable pace, but sometimes I get too tired, and need to take a break (I have a teacher who calls it a mini yoga vacation on the mat). For a long time growing up, I was always under the impression that taking breaks was for the weak--it was for the people who couldn't keep going or didn't have the mental or physical fortitude. Well, now I know it is the opposite. Having the courage and discipline to listen to your body and honor it's needs are the signs of a person who is strong and willing to respect their body and practice. Although I am always looking for my edge, I wouldn't be able to embrace it if I didn't take the occasional break.
Going with the flow: What does it really mean to go with the flow? Does it mean giving up or just accepting the way things are? Not really. I think it does mean letting go of trying to control things you can't (like other people and their reactions or accidents). I think it does mean trying to roll with the punches. I read somewhere that going with the flow is like actively trusting and cooperating with what the universe offers you. It is so easy to get frustrated and angry when you cannot let things go--when you cannot go with the flow.
I have a Saturday ritual. In the morning, I get up early and go to yoga. After yoga, we pretty much always go get a gluten free biscuit at Daisy Cakes. We usually sit around, have some coffee and chat, then meander home to do some cleaning up, walk my sweet dog with my wonderful partner, and then do something fun at night (dinner, movie, friends, drinks, etc). Such a perfect day, right!? I LOVE SATURDAYS. However, sometimes, the universe will throw a curveball at you, and (I am sorry to say, but) your plans don't mean shit to the universe. Last Saturday, I experienced a curveball, which threw off my plans, made me sad and frustrated, then depressed. Instead of letting it go and going with the flow, I fought the flow, which is a horrible, lose-lose game plan.
“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.” – Lao Tzu
Frustration and anger are normal. So normal. But letting them get the best of you is not a healthy practice. It is my practice during this saison de la chaleur to stay cool. To not let the heat and frustration bubble out of me and consume my being. Take some deep breaths. Find space. Find peace and clarity and coolness. Go with the flow.
“Flow with whatever is happening and let your mind be free. Stay centered by accepting whatever you are doing...” – Chuang Tzu