I do the leaving, it’s what I do. No seriously, I struggle with staying put. I have ultra-nomadic tendencies. Unlike many people I enjoy moving from place to place, city to city, state to state, or country to country. I have lived in Dominican Republic, as well as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New York, and now Florida. Somehow I have been staying pretty still in Florida, but that comes with tenacious arguments with myself. I’m a wanderer, a roamer, the kind of person that’s constantly drifting away into a daydream about being in far away places. I love traveling, of course. It’s what I prefer to spend my money on. It’s the reason why I settle for routines and a job and a schedule. If it weren’t for the possibility of traveling over my long summer breaks I wouldn’t have been so keen to become a teacher. (I now know that I LOVE teaching but long breaks were certainly an initial incentive!!) Travel brings purpose to my life. But this just proves my =restless mental state. I hate routines and sometimes I crave them. It’s like an endless tug-of-war, as if my own mind can’t make up its mind.
In retrospect, there’s nothing wrong with having dreams of being on a different continent, or a different country, or a different state. Sometimes that pushes us to accomplish more or to save more money in order to get there, and that’s okay. But it becomes a problem when we are constantly wishing to be somewhere else. That takes us away from the present. As cliche as this may sound, the present moment is really the only thing we have of value. Wishing to be somewhere else other than HERE, right now, is taking that gift for granted. Wishing and daydreaming disconnects us from the people, places, and activities that keep us alive. In turn, this disconnects us from operating at our best.
In his book “How to Live a Good Life,” Jonathan Fields said it best:
“Our job is not so much to go from here to there, but to wake up. To own our current reality. To see it. Feel it. Accept it. Then take action to start living the life we dream of living. One breath, one step, one day at a time. Not later. Not tomorrow. But today. Right now.”
So this is where yoga and mindfulness comes in handy. And here is how I, as someone who is susceptible to floating away into a daydream, use the tools of my practice.
Yoga is helpful because…
- it gets me back to the present moment.
- it gets me to pause and notice the day.
- it gets me to notice the state of my body and how it feels.
- the emotion of gratitude becomes more real.
- when problems arise, as they always do (like getting locked out of your own apartment), I have learned to search for the solutions in a calm way, instead of an angry way.
- it gets me to notice when I am operating on autopilot.
- it keeps me healthy and strong.
- it gets me to focus on my breath.
- it gets me to concentrate on one thing at a time.
- it gets me to let go of expectations or regret.
How exactly does yoga do all that? By focusing on…
intention (goal, aim, or plan)
action (getting things done, achievement)
A steady mind presupposes a steady body. In other words, without good health we have nothing. Although I’m pretty good when it comes to the physical side of things, as you have probably noticed I need to work on the mental side of things. I need to work on staying present and mindful on a day to day basis, and in every part of my day not just the parts I enjoy. Life doesn’t always give us lemons and I need to take that into account when I am reflecting and making big decisions.
My intention, especially for the new and glorious year of 2017, is to catch myself when my attention is spinning into the future and guiding it back to the present moment. The actions I will be taking when my thoughts start to drift far, far away will be to develop a more solid meditation practice and a daily pranayama or dharana practice. (Two things I don’t do enough.) The reward will come from new-found ability to stay aware/mindful. The reward will be visible inside of me, inside how happy and grateful I am with what I have and the gifts that are already mine. The reward will be in letting go of my perception of how other people live their life, because that’s not my reality.
The solution for this year is not to focus on the patches of dead grass, but to care for the lawn enough that the entire yard improves and flourishes!.
I believe 2017 will be a great year!
Now it is YOUR turn. Write down your intention for 2017, the actions you will take to achieve it, and what the reward and new-found awareness will look like as it flourishes within your life.