You Have Permission to Nap

Last week, I encountered a lovely piece of writing on the perils of always needing to be productive, to be doing something -- and of course I read it while sneaking in a Facebook session, while feeling guilty about being on Facebook, while doing something mundane, like trying to sweep (again) the floor. 

The story brought me into a chair, and I've been thinking about it ever since. It brought to my awareness how much I am always--almost every waking minute--trying to prove the worthiness of my existence by achieving: a clean floor, a new poem, a new book, another yoga class. I've felt it particularly since I stopped working full-time because I feel an acute need to justify my existence because I am not making a full-time wage anymore. I've internalized that making money, or keeping a clean house, or being a master family manager, is what generates my worth even though I would say to anyone else that they are worthy for simply being here and being them. So why is it so hard to offer rest and compassion to the self? 

 Of course, there's a laundry list of reasons for everyone, and we don't need to make ourselves busier by listing them. Instead, step out. Breathe. Go lie down on some grass in the sun.

Last week, I tried to do a few of these things. One day, I took a nap in the hammock even though I still had 4 yards of dirt to haul. And I listened to this fabulous yoga nidra--which is deep yoga rest--practice by Richard Miller, too. Yes, it's 35 minutes long, and yes, you are worth taking that 35 minutes out of a schedule to listen. 

Walking Out the Mind

Walking is one of -- and probably the most important -- of my daily practices. It's a quiet and often overlooked practice that doesn't need any fancy equipment beyond a comfortable pair of shoes. 

There is something about the rhythm that is cerebellar, that gets me out of my mind and into my body and the surrounding world. I can feel wind, sun, rain, or snow on my face. I can hear what birds have returned. I can smell water on rock. I can hear, as poet Robert Bringhurst puts it, the thinking of things.


I usually leave right after the school bus whisks the children away. Often getting them out the door leaves me feeling fairly fractured and anxious, which leads me to circling through my usual mental loops over how the day will go, what I will fail to do, what disaster will occur, etc.

But give me ten minutes on the lakeside path I frequent, and I'm already feeling less fraught. Like most things that make us a bit easier, it's not magic, but it sure is a simple medicine. 

Portsmouth Harbour Breakwater

Portsmouth Harbour Breakwater

Yoga is Not About the Pants

Or about how "flexible" you are.

Or about six pack abs.

Or about the person next to you doing a headstand while flossing their perfectly straight, perfectly white teeth. 

It is not about being "good" at yoga, or being "fit," or being attractive/skinny/bendy enough to be allowed in a yoga studio, though it seems most yoga magazines and yoga stores if not explicitly, than implicitly through their use of photos and ads, create these rules. 

We have enough places/magazines/brands telling us to feel bad about ourselves 

Yoga doesn't have to be one of them. 

In fact, my favourite explanation of what yoga is comes from T.K.S. Desikchar, in The Heart of Yoga. Yoga, he writes, can be defined as "attaining what was previously unattainable." He goes on to say, the starting point for this thought is that there is something that we are today unable to do; when we find the means for bringing that desire into action, that step is yoga."

That step could be finding a way into a pose that's comfortable and steady for us or learning to examine our own reactions to a given situation. But, Desikachar writes, "the practice of yoga only requires us to act and to be attentive to our actions. Each of us is required to pay careful attention to the direction we are taking so that we know where we are going and how we are going to get there; this careful observation will enable us to discover something new."

In this explanation, there's no room for should be. There is only room for what-is, for coming to the self and the world with alertness, curiousity and attentiveness. And it's those little acts of attentiveness that add up to a life. 

And for that, pants are optional. 


          mazaletel : courtesy of Flickr.   




mazaletel: courtesy of Flickr.