Welcome to Day 9 of my new blog series. This series is based on Judith Hansen-Lasater’s “A Year of Living Your Yoga.”
I will try to keep these posts to less than 500 words. (These words don’t count — ha ha, nor does the quote.)
Here is the quote:
August 15 — Wasted time is the time I spend not being present with my life. There is really no such thing as wasted time if I am fully present with myself as each moment arises. Right now, stop, take a breath, observe what you are feeling, note what you are thinking, and look at what is going on around you. Hold these observations lightly and evenly. Practice whenever you can, and the moment will not be wasted.
I guess. This one’s a little hard for me. Sometimes, I hate the present moment. Does that mean I’m wasting it?
Sometimes, I think the present moment absolutely stinks. Like when I injure myself, or the day a woman slammed her car into mine. I don’t want to stay there. Or when bad news hits you like a freight train: do you want to stay there? Sometimes, it’s nice to ship yourself off to la-la land for a few moments.
I get what she’s saying though.
I recently heard banter about a newspaper article which discussed the phenomenon of FOMO (fear of missing out) killing actual life experiences: that we are so enmeshed with our online experiences that we miss out completely on the stuff that is actually happening and is actually affecting us. People are using their cell phone cameras to take pictures or shoot video of a moment that is occurring, and the irony is that instead of experiencing the moment as fully as possible, it is being supposedly “captured” and pixelated on a tiny screen (or not so tiny as some of these giant cell phones are becoming the size of restaurant menus).
I am guilty of that. Years ago I went to see Billy Joel in concert. We had amazing seats and instead of soaking in the moment and dancing and singing along to “It’s All Rock N Roll to Me,” I whipped out my camera phone to take pictures. It didn’t matter to me that Billy was the size of a mosquito (with a very big ego) on my phone, and that the odds were quite high I’d never look at the footage again. This was even before Facebook. My husband looked at me and said, “Put down the phone! You’re missing the show!” I growled, but he was right. So I stopped doing it altogether. I don’t even have that phone anymore.
And no, I didn’t ever look at the pictures.
My brother is just the opposite of this: when he’s at a rock concert, he calls me and he shouts into the phone, “I’M AT THE ROLLING STONES SHOW!” but it sounds like “AHMAZAROWLIGOANESOW!” and the guitar is all warbly, but I love the tradition. In fact if he doesn’t call me sometime during a show I know he’s attending I get bummed.
In yoga though, I find that I can really experience the moment best when I work the action with the breath. When I say to students, “inhale and lift your arms up, extend your spine, and reach through your finger tips, breathe, and exhale your arms down, reaching for the space around you…” I am hopeful that the students are letting what I have to say sink in and making each moment count.
When we hold a pose, say, adho muhka svanasana (downward facing dog) for an extended time, it’s not just to let the body release, but to let the mind release as well. It’s always up to students to decide when to come out of the pose, but as a teacher, I encourage students to breathe, notice sensations in the body, emotional vulnerabilities, and stay with me, so they can access a deeper stillness within themselves.
It’s the same thing during meditation. I encourage students to sit tall and root through their hips while reaching through the crown of the head. I suggest they notice the air on their skin and the sounds in the room or outside it. Then it’s about coming inward: pulse, breath, tightness, looseness… where is the mind going? Let it all release…
So Lasater’s right: when we experience each moment as best we can (sometimes we’d rather be in a hole somewhere), we can be sure we’re honoring ourselves by living fully.
That said: you’re completely allowed to play hooky occasionally. Sometimes taking it all in can be exhausting.