Over there at “Meeting Myself on the Mat”, a blog I’ve come to really enjoy, YogaGuide has some interesting things to say. Well, she usually does but today’s words of wisdom are about training ourselves to wait until the dust has settled and all the facts are in before we act. It’s good advice — “Shut your pie hole; Watch your mind.”
Watching my mind. Now that’s a circus act in and of itself. My mind loves to wander over and play with its latest obsession at the drop of a hat. I’m a police dispatcher (fire dispatcher, 9-1-1 operator — baby, we do it all) and that job is all about multi-tasking. Pretty much, I’m a professional multi-tasker, bringing order to the chaos and loving every flipping nanosecond of it. I make a damn good living because I can keep about 6 balls in the air at all times and rarely drop one. It’s a system that richly rewards one for having the capacity to mentally flit from topic to perception to memory to sensation to topic in rapid succession.
This little monkey mind of mine just loves to keep busy. Even when she’s supposed to sit still and be here, be now, be with the moment, live inside the breath, she’s secretly looking over her shoulder for the first chance she has to escape and go play with her latest obsession. This week, that would be the business of yoga. I graduated less than a month ago and oh brother, have I hit the ground running. I’ve booked teaching space, and started this blog and put up a web page and registered my business name and interviewed an accountant and wrote a conference proposal and put together a 20 page business plan., In my spare time, I worked a full time job. More or less, I think one can safely say it’s a reasonable start on things and there is NO current requirement to panic. First public class is still 6 weeks away. First night of class is in September!!
So today, while in the midst of my practice, enjoying a nice supine twist, where do I catch little Miss Monkey Mind? Not on the mat. Not with the breath…nooooooooooooo, she’s off digging in the files marked “Future workshop proposals”. And not just glancing at them with longing…oh no. She had them out of the box and papers scattered everywhere. I might have looked like I was on the mat but no, I was actually living in some future reality that may or may not have a workshop in it.
Get back here!!
Sigh. What am I to do with this little Miss Monkey Mind? In the time honoured tradition of yogis everywhere, there was but one thing to do … breathe. Come back to the breath. Give Miss Mind something to play with over here in the right now. Inhale. Exhale. The files and the workshops and the plans will be here later today. Now is the time of practice. Now is the time to let go of all the what ifs and the what might be’s and just BE.
Between here and the grave, I know Miss Monkey Mind is going to dart out a thousand more times. Ten thousand more times. Tens of thousands of more times. So why do I persevere? I keep at it for two reasons; One, I’ve had glimpses and hints that this stuff actually works. I’m calmer, more controlled and making better decisions than I was five years ago. It’s hard to argue with results. Secondly, I do it because Yoga Guide is right. This is training. This is the honing of skills in a safe, low risk environment.
Today, on my mat, in the security of my own home, there were no consequences to Miss Monkey Mind’s mad dash escape to play with her baubles, other than I was annoyed with the phenomenon. Recovery was merely a case of breathe, bring her back, breathe, breathe and return to practice. It’s not always consequence free. Sometimes we really need to be on our game.
In my job, a moment’s inattention or my mind elsewhere can have some horrific consequences — loss of life or the preventable injury and suffering of a co-worker. It’s easier to see in my job because the consequences are so immediate (and potentially subject to judicial inquiry). It’s not just work life either. There’s been many moments as a parent when I know I could have done better if I’d been fully present in the moment while dealing with my child. My words to my husband might have been more understanding. I might have picked up clues for a co-worker or friend that would cue me to be more compassionate.
Being here, fully aware and in the moment is a very powerful deliberate act because Life is forever presenting us with moments when we have to be “spot on” our game. Those are the moments when we need to act from a place of discernment and clarity and inner wisdom because those are the moments when we have one and only one shot to get it right. Consequences are high; room for error is nil. This is the purpose of practice. It’s not about how deep we move into a posture, the state of our hamstrings or the external rotation of our shoulders. That’s the training run and its function is getting us prepared for Game Day… also known as the Rest of Your Life.
Thanks for reading and Namaste,