The highlight and largest breath of this week was a reminder, I don’t have to follow through on someone else’s wish for me if it does not fit or feel right in the moment. A no brainer, right? But one we easily forget to implement.
A week ago, in the first night at the college drawing class I am auditing, the instructor handed me a notice of an upcoming juried art show with the statement, “I really would like you to strongly consider entering.” And, to also be in the community art show the same weekend. So a seed was planted and I overlooked the word consider and went straight to I need to, or should, or must. I considered what I have in stock, my unfinished pieces, unframed or matted, one with need of a bit of repair, considered each one and brought them to Marko for his input. I came home after this weeks class on Wednesday night with a tight gut and a list in my head of what needs to happen in a weeks time. I did not sleep well. In the morning I put out a call to my framer and set an appointment and held an inner intention, if this does not flow well, I am not going to push myself. Good step number 1. Late that morning a call came in from the framer saying she could not meet at our proposed time but could meet later in the day at 4 p m.. Okay, I will be down in St. Paul anyway. At 3:45, I left the St. Paul office after a meeting ended early and was going to head a bit north, deal with the art, then head back down to St. Paul for a dinner gathering for a co-worker’s retirement.
Step number 2. I sat a moment in the parking lot envisioning the traffic heading north at this time of day and the drive back down to the restaurant. As the seconds ticked away a resounding NO entered and a lovely breath of air. No, I don’t need to add this to my life right now. Yes, I could pull this off if I rush but, I don’t feel like rushing.
Step number 3. Head down to the restaurant an hour early. Sit in the car and rest my body and brain, close my eyes for a moment. Finish the emails of the work day. Enter the restaurant and enjoy a delightful evening with people I very much care about.
In all of this, it was the gut that tipped me off. I realized since the Camino experience I have been in a wonderful state of calm and movement through life. I had earlier last year ended a relationship with a challenging volunteer position for a non profit. My month of travel swept away the tight gut of that experience and I have not felt that tightness since, until this past Wednesday night. My whole being said, I do not want to be rushing trying to fulfill expectations, no matter how well intended they are for me.
This morning’s reflective reading held a piece by Rolf Gates in Meditations from the Mat. He was talking about staying in a yoga posture but what he said connected for me in the broader aspects of life. We need to make rest a part of our practice, and we need to take that rest long before we feel exhausted or frustrated. In yoga we would rest in child’s pose to catch our breath. As in yoga, we can take a break and rest and take a few calming breaths before moving on and beginning again into a different pose. Like stepping out of something, getting your bearings and then entering back in to a different project or a different way. Or we can rest in the posture itself by just backing off a little within the pose, rest for a breath or two, and then see if you can deepen the pose. The key is to do it long before we want to bolt. So we are in a meeting, we feel frustrated, rather than bolt for the door or shut down, we can begin to take a moment to be mindful of our breath, our surroundings, then re engage. Or, we are in the midst of creating a painting and start to feel our own expectations about the piece and work ourselves to exhaustion. When I am feeling the pressure of expectations, I can breathe with the awareness of what I am feeling and then go deeper into the awareness as it guides me to right action.
Gates ends with the statement, As a young man I would look in awe at older people around me who could sustain their effort at a job or a project over many years. I didn’t realize that these men and women had learned to rest in the posture.
In the grief realm, I remind people that they can take a break from grief. In fact our grieving, as we get stronger, is a flow between inward and outward. Engaging inward and engaging outward with family, friends, and community in a constant healthy flow. In a long term marriage we rest in mindfulness as we assess where we are and where we are going and adjust in the flow of it. The best advice a long time hospice social worker gave me 15 years ago when I entered the hospice work life was, “You will survive this work life in hospice if when your attention gets pulled into the stress and chaos of the management life of constant change and turmoil, you bring your attention back to the work you are here to do, patients, families, grief. ”
We learn to stay focused, rest in our breath, deepen our awareness and keep moving in to the next posture.