Our Over-Scheduled Lives

My husband was lamenting today the fact that nothing can be spontaneous anymore.  Everyone is over-scheduled.  He called some friends of ours to see if we could manage to get together some time next week.  Of course, he first had to check with me to see what my schedule would allow before suggesting potential dates and times to our friends.  It probably will not surprise you to learn that we could not find a time next week that was available to all of us.  In order to get together we would need to make a plan and find a date and time at some point in the future.  We would need to put the event into our calendars and make sure to generate reminders so we would not forget about it.  Then we would need to hope that we could get to that date and time without unforeseen obstacles intruding between now and then.

Short of finding an available future meeting time, my husband noted that since someone had answered his phone call, they must be home now.  So would it be possible for him to stop by now or some time this afternoon?  Once again, not surprisingly, the answer was “Sorry!  We’re expecting company this afternoon”.  Yikes!  What complicated lives we all live.  It’s no wonder that so many of us are plagued by the constant notion that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to do everything we think we need to do.

All of this can create stress.  By now all of us have heard that stress can create all sorts of health problems.  In a recent edition of the Daily Insight newsletter from Yoga Journal, physician and Yoga Journal medical editor Timothy McCall warns that stress may also fuel chronic illnesses, such as obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. “If you are continually stressed, you leave the door open to a variety of health conditions,” McCall says.

But then he goes on to say that a regular, consistent yoga practice can help.  Another edition of the Daily Insight gives the following related suggestions:

. . .  as we become busier and busier, even the activities that bring us joy can feel like just one more thing to do.

So, how do we bring balance into our hectic lives? Often, we look for some external solution that can make us better, stronger, more spiritual, or happier. But the search itself can leave us feeling busier, more stressed, and ultimately, less fulfilled. The real key to finding balance is to focus internally and listen to what’s inside.

Achieving balance can be as simple as taking regular moments to connect with yourself. Do something that turns your awareness inward.

So how about making an appointment with yourself.  Give yourself time for your practice and treat it like you would any of the other obligations you’ve created in your life.  And – yes – you have created most of these obligations.  Of course, some of them are related to caregiving, employment or other chores, but you can still make time for yourself.  Consistency is key.  The more you stick to it, the more you will find that not only can you stick to it, but the rest of your life may even benefit.

As you do this, try dropping all judgmental terminology.  If you choose to join a class (always a good choice!) as your means of focusing on yourself and giving yourself some time to just be, avoid comparing yourself to others.  One more pearl of wisdom from the Yoga Journal:

. . . comparing yourself to others in the room or expecting unrealistic results from your body can cause suffering—but as the yogic sage Patanjali said . . . the pain that is yet to come can be avoided.

By gently allowing your body to discover . . . through different poses or variations, you remind yourself not to mistake who you are for how you should look in a pose—opening both your muscles and your mind along the way.

Each of us is unique and, although “one size fits all” solutions are offered to us on a daily basis by various media outlets, we are each an experiment of one.  No can tell you what will work best for you.  But tools can be offered.  How you choose to use them is up to you.   And your method of using a tool (or pose) may be totally different from someone else’s even when it is the same tool (or pose).  There is no right or wrong way.  There is only what works for you in this moment.  Subject to change at any time.  Be open to the possibilities.  You may surprise yourself.

On Mental, Verbal and Physical Fitness

As a person who is plagued with an abundance of words continuously itching to escape, many of which have gotten me into trouble more frequently than I would like to recount, I was particularly taken by this article in the Yoga Journal.  The article is written by noted author and meditation teacher Sally Kempton and is titled “Mindful Speaking”.  Click on the link to read the article.  It may give you some food for thought.  It certainly did for me.  The article emphasizes the power of negative speech, probably because so many of us (myself emphatically included) often fall prey to this quagmire without even realizing it.  But by extension, it is equally clear that “right” speech can generate uplifting vibrations that may help to raise all consciousness, including our own.

Vibrations in and of themselves are an interesting phenomenon.  There are some physicists and philosophers who speculate that everything is composed of vibrations.  They resonate at varying frequencies giving them unique properties that may or may not be visible, penetrable or even detectable to humans.  Following this concept opens the mind to all kinds of possibilities.

Another great little article from the Yoga Journal reminds us of the miracle of the human body.  We each have over 600 muscles in our bodies and each one of them contributes to every move we make.  If you did any snow shovelling today, you may be feeling all of them!  But we also need to keep them all functioning and able to do their jobs.  The article reminds us that we can’t isolate any one of them when we exercise.  That’s the beauty of yoga and Pilates.  Both disciplines help you work all of your muscles, simply and efficiently based on your own body and ability.  And they even bring in that particularly large muscle in your head – your brain.    Your mind can work for you or against you.  The choice is yours.  Let it work for you this week as you help keep all your muscles operational. Every effort you make – even if it seems small – is a valuable contribution.

Think of your body as an instrument and movement as tuning your vibrations to generate optimum positive energy.  The mental energy you expend generates vibrations also.  As the vibrations move out like ripples on water your own positive movement and energy can have an impact on everything around you.   Choose wisely.  But don’t fret if you think you got it wrong.  Every moment offers a new opportunity to turn things around.