Room. Something that I am learning from practicing yoga. Let it breathe. Let life breathe. Give it space. Give it room. No need to respond right away, it’s okay to give it time. And there are more moments available to us than we realize. In-between the projects that consume us there is a life that breathes. In one practice, the observation given was “What if all life is, is breath?” What if that is all life is? In and out, in and out, until the last breath is exhaled. If I pay attention to my breath, I pay attention to each moment that I am living, and life becomes a different sort of thing. It becomes much more than a “to do” list that occupies and cuts up the day; it becomes the number of breaths I am blessed to take each day; the seconds, minutes, hours, days that are given to us for us to experience the world, in whatever form that experience takes.
When I was younger I didn’t get the concept of space; giving it room; letting it breathe. I worked and worked and worked some more. For survival, of course. I lived my life running; always trying to catch up; always feeling left behind. When you live like this you live out of time and out of breath; trying so hard to make sure that life doesn’t slip through your fingers that you forget to take a moment to enjoy the journey. But it’s like treating a marathon run like a sprint. Eventually you run out of energy and collapse. Many people have in the past, and many will in the future. For some, this is the nature of life. And it’s a shame. I guess the question always gets back to God. Why are some people forced to live certain lives, and others given others? That is a conversation for another time. And I think I already had it, in my discussion of Good and Evil. But I digress.
And then I got sick. The funny thing is, I couldn’t even tell because my “sick” looked like my “stress.” I was exhausted, but that was normal. I was having tremors and my heartbeat was out of control, but that was normal. It was difficult for me to breathe at times, but that was normal. And every once in awhile I would have a panic attack. Again, completely normal. I was under pressure… That’s what it meant to be under pressure. My body made the choice to slow me down because my mind wouldn’t. So now I can’t run as fast as I used to. My body protests, and puts me back into second gear. And you know what? I’ve accepted it. I’ve made it far enough that I can slow down to a jog – a fast jog but a jog all the same. And even though I have a lot more to accomplish and many more miles to run, I won’t do it like I have a raving dog nipping at my heels. I am going to run a marathon like a marathon, not a hundred-meter dash.
It’s funny how something as mundane as yoga can help you see the spaces in life for what they are. I think it’s because as challenging as it for the body to do (anyone who has done it knows it’s not as easy as it looks), something about getting better each day – the slow progression of it all – makes it a lesson in living. What if life is not as complicated as it seems? What if we could live in such a way that a little bit of this and a little bit of that each day is enough for a whole lot of progress over a long period of time?
Nowadays stress hardly ever manifests itself at the level of my mind. I have become so used to it that it is difficult for it to affect my peace, but my body has developed its own way of telling me when to slow down. And when it talks, I listen. When I hear it speak I know I have to take a step back, and breathe. Breathe in, breathe out. Yoga.
T. M. G.