view from Waikiki Beach, Oahu
This week (and every week!) I am encouraging the folks in my yoga classes to give themselves some serious, well deserved credit for carving out time to get to their mats. So often we put everything else ahead of our health and well-being. It can be terribly difficult to make time for ourselves, especially if doing so results in guilt for spending time away from loved ones, the office, whatever feels more important. As a parent or caregiver, it can feel excruciating to leave the house for 90 minutes to take a yoga class or grab some coffee with a friend. And these important time-outs do us less good if we have a bunch of stress and anxiety tied up in our efforts to heal and replenish ourselves.
What if we change how we think about the time we set aside for ourselves? What if we learn to recognize its importance in our lives and the lives of the people who count on us?
In her book The Trance of Scarcity, Victoria Castle says, "Those of us who want to do good in the world are especially accountable to our own well-being. If we are to be of real service to humanity, we must make ourselves available to be nourished, inspired, and sustained. Otherwise, how would we keep going?"
This is profound on many levels, but two parts of this quote leap out at me. First, she says that those of us who want to do good in the world are especially accountable. Sometimes I think we believe the opposite; sometimes we behave like martyrs, giving to others and never taking time to renew ourselves. I also love the way Victoria says we must make ourselves available to be nourished, inspired, and sustained. It is up to us, and it is a necessity.
If we don't fill ourselves up, how can we expect to enrich the lives of others?
Your yoga practice is an opportunity for you to be renewed, replenished, nourished, inspired, and sustained (not to mention relaxed!). When you arrive on your mat this week, take a moment to feel good about your decision to spend some time there. Perhaps take a moment to feel gratitude for your yoga practice, your body, the blessings in your life that allow for your practice. Do the same if you go out for tea, a cocktail, a meal with friends or family. A daily gratitude practice -- even just a few minutes or seconds each day-- is itself nourishing, inspiring, and sustaining.
I have a bumper sticker that says, "The meaning of life is to live it." My hope for each of us is that we take the time to do just that. Spend some time every single day in your body and with your breath. Replenish yourself so you can continue to give to others. Serve as an example for the people in your life. How amazing would it feel to inspire your children, a parent, your spouse or partner, a friend, a coworker to be kind and good to themselves? Start a domino effect for the people around you.