I woke up this morning at 6:00AM, as I have naturally been doing since moving to China. The sun starts to rise somewhere around 5:00AM, it seems, and I am up shortly after. I imagine this has something to do with my inability to trust an alarm clock, and I am typically out of bed within seconds of consciousness. I have been this way my entire life. If not by the pure energy of the sun rising, an alarm clock can wake me up with just one attempt. I have never been one to use the ‘snooze’ option, and can remember just a tiny amount of times where I have overslept or slumbered through a wake-up call. But today was different.
I laid in bed this morning for two hours, reading and trolling the inter-webs. Feeling as though I was missing something, with each minute, I thought, I should probably get up right now. I poured myself a cup of tea and hopped back into bed. You see, I had nothing on my calendar today. I had no obligations, no solid friends here, and no real push to be up and active. And since my body wasn’t moving as it tends to be at this time of day, my mind began racing and reflecting. I was on overload. I took a sip of my hot drink, and inhaled the fresh air pouring into my room from the back door I opened just moments before grabbing my tea. Why the urgency? Why the mind-traffic? Why the anxiety and hollow feelings of insecurity?
Thus, Takeaway #1 from this experience: When you entertain the hustle of a busy life, you will always expect the hustle of a busy life.
This past two weeks, aside from the already-noted professional growth, I have felt an extreme reprieve from the, “go, go, go,” lifestyle I once held so dear. ‘Being still’ is a powerful skill to master, and one which intrigues me every single day. I once got in trouble at my first yoga class several years ago. I didn’t realize the attention, patience, and relaxation (and flexibility!) involved in this hobby, and ended up gigging my way through the entire class. Karma would only come back to visit me as I attempted to do hot yoga last year, and halfway through the instruction, passed out and needed to be pulled into the hallway to cool down. Nor my mind or body would truly allow me to relax. ‘Being still’ was a foreign concept, and I was merely a distant observer.
Alas, this again, leads me to the question which haunted me this morning, “Why do we force ourselves out of bed?” Why do we giggle through traditional yoga, and fail to prepare our bodies for hot yoga (which, my passing out at hot yoga can certainly be a metaphor for so many things)? Other than a job, a child, a pet, or a social obligation (which, clearly I have none of, on this particular day), why is ‘being still’ such a tough concept to master? Let’s pause there for a moment.
I am clearly generalizing here (and/or projecting my own life experiences on many of you), as I have friends who actually do master the art of ‘being still.’ Hell, I have one really good friend who even goes on yoga retreats. She is one of the most peaceful human beings I know, and I find myself always a bit more calm when I’m around her. The point here, though, is that this friend is rare. And I have noticed, as more people work, pop out babies, advance their career, grow in the community, take on new endeavors, get a new pet, or further connect online and via social media, they actually end up moving further away from truly having some sense of ‘still.’
So today, my weekend challenge is to fight off all urges to get out of bed. Relax my (your) mind. Fight the urge to giggle in yoga, and physically and emotionally prepare the body for what hot-yoga-like experiences are ahead. Decompress, and relish in these moments. Believe, and free the mind of any heavy burdens. Trust, ‘being still.’
And once you’ve mastered this achievement, finish your cup of tea, elect not to shower, and replay Muir’s, “The mountains are calling and I must go,” over and over until your first foot hits the pavement. In this moment, you’re truly living. Hit the pavement today, and every day.