Recently, I admired a friend's brooch; a beautiful, hand carved, wooden animal. "What kind of animal is that", I asked? "It's a sloth" she said. I'm all for a bit of sloth worshipping; the world's slowest moving animal, moving so slowly that algae grows on their fur! They spend most of their lives hanging upside-down, sleeping a lot, moving only when necessary, (at a pace of 15 – 30 centimetres per minute), and come down out of their tree weekly to defecate. YEP, they're super slow and don't do much. Next time you do a walking meditation maybe try sloth pace?
Is there any sloth-fullness in your life?
Since closing the Sun Crescent yoga studio in 2013, I have been simplifying my life. Creating lots of space. Fine tuning the dynamic balance between doing enough to keep me happy, fed and watered, and not doing too much, and leaving myself plenty of unstructured time to do... errr... whatever! Sloth-fullness is a welcome visitor. As a yoga teacher and student, this simplifying is part of my work, but more generally, it feels wise and kind to take the foot off the accelerator and move at a slower pace.
One of the welcome results of choosing a simpler life is less stress.
Is everything as urgent as your stress would imply? ~ Carrie Latet
One of the ways we generate stress is doing too much. Over complicating our life and making choices that give ourselves little downtime. No time for free flying, for simple enjoyment and pleasure, for creativity to flower, and not nearly enough rest. With constant fast movement and goal driven pressure our systems are stretched to the limit. We easily get stressed, tempers are quick to spark and our natural equanimity is threatened. This inevitably leads to general exhaustion, which takes its toll on all aspects of our life and health.
We know this is true and we feel it keenly, but to choose a different way can be confronting. It takes courage and determination. You might have to give some things up. Or be willing to be a little less important. To stop and step out of the stream and actively go against the main tide of humanity can be threatening, perhaps even be perceived as downright subversive!
My crown is called content, a crown that seldom kings enjoy. ~ William Shakespeare
The question is why not create your own trajectory? Why not step out of the stream? Why wait for some unknowable future to bring you equanimity? Most able-bodied people have much choice. All you need to employ is imagination and creativity. Is this present that you are living in right now of your own bespoke design? And what of the design you have created? Is it serving your essential being? Does it help you flourish, live fully, engage with others and get your joy juices flowing?
Above, I challenge you on a big, broad, grand life scale. This big picture changes slowly and it often takes time to imagine and create a scenario of artful design. So we start with the little picture changes, which are easier to grapple with, and this is where our beloved friend yoga can come to our aid.
The good news is that all of the big stuff is addressed when we participate in our yoga with intelligence. Mind-fullness, body-fullness, heart-fullness. The word yoga means union; to bring together, to bind, to join. When we practice yoga we seek to bring all the warring, disparate parts of ourselves into agreement, into a living dynamic balance that flows in tune with all other living beings and the universe. Through the exercises we investigate the ways that we resist this union and fullness. The ways that we rage against ourselves. Every time we move into a pose and intelligently connect to our body, breath, mind, heart, we are stepping along this path of union. As we make peace with ourselves we can then make peace with the world outside the classroom. With time the knowledge and information that we harness and consolidate through our practice informs the bigger picture, and then the bigger picture, and the bigger picture... And change that once seemed inconceivable might just become reality...
This is the gift of Yoga. Yoga brings freedom.
Live where you
fear to live.
Destroy your reputation.
© Claire Heywood, September 2017