Sometimes in my everyday life I feel as though I’m a terrible yogi — off the mat I mean. I feel as though my attention is fragmented, I struggle to fit into my days all the things I want to and I always feel as though I should be somewhere else, doing something else. It feels the opposite of being present. Where’s my focus, where’s my attention, where’s the care for what I’m doing?
Now that I’m away, I have the opportunity to slow right down. Sure, I’m still me (with my type A personality) and I have a whole bunch of stuff I’d like to do in this holiday/not-holiday, but I can take my time with it, I can give it all a bit more love. And I realise of course I am capable of this kind of attention — that’s what I practise on the mat after all! When there’s less pressure to achieve, there’s more space for settling in and observing how things are without the judgement of ‘not enough’ creeping into everything.
Because Hubby is here to work, he tells me each evening what he’s been up to in his research that day, and it’s interesting hearing him talk about ideas, reviewing notes, giving greater definition to thoughts that have been in his head for a long time. Academic research is a long game and writing a book can take years. He necessarily has a slower pace of work sustained over a long period. There might be not much to show for it for quite some time. And that’s just how it is.
I’m sitting on some projects at the moment, ideas for some teachings that I’d like to give form to, that I’d like to realise sometime. For now I’m enjoying mulling them over, trying out various ideas for size. Do I see myself as this teacher, sharing this experience, and with what sort of people….? It’s the kind of creative speculation I don’t usually have time for. I’m enjoying these playful thoughts a while before I decide if they’ll become a serious reality. It feels like a luxury.
But I’m not just living in the future. Slowing down also makes the present moment more vivid and visible. Things no longer flash by in a blur of busyness. Now I’m delighting in the sights, sounds and textures physically around me. My favourite practice space is in a shady corner by the pool, leaving Hubby typing on the terrace.
The wind rustles through the bamboo and the olives trees which overhang my mat. Birds of prey call distantly overhead, somewhere almost out of sight in the deep blue sky. If I wander off my mat the cold marble pavement surprises my feet. The air carries the dusty-sweet scent of the dried earth and a fig tree somewhere I haven’t found yet. I feel part of the environment here; a little yogi trying on animal shapes with her body, each day committing to tread a little more lightly on the earth, taking joy in lifting up to the sun and bowing down to the earth. Cycles of breath, seasonal changes, life and death… I feel part of the mystery of our living planet. I am here.
And as I focus my attention in this way, I get an email from my mum, house-sitting for me back home. She’s sent me a photo of an autumn leaf — simply because the colours delighted her. Maybe it’ll still be on the kitchen bench when I arrive back home!