I have always been clumsy. I lack a certain amount of grace and coordination. I whack my shoulders and hips on door frames and my shins on coffee tables, even if they’re in the same place they’ve always been. I’m embarrassed to tell you how old I was when I learned to ride a bike. I don’t have much hand-eye coordination, so I will never be a tennis, bowling, ping-pong, or four square champion.
These things I know and accept about myself.
This is all compounded by the fact that I get distracted easily and often. It’s not that I don’t know the door frame is there, it’s just that my focus is somewhere else – like where I’m walking to or where I’m coming from. In other words: I am not in the present moment.
It’s the same reason it takes me hours to clean my house: I need to vacuum the living room, so I have to pick up all of the dog toys from the floor. Then I find something that needs to be moved to the kitchen. While I’m in the kitchen I notice the recycling needs taken out, so I do that. On my way back through the kitchen, I realize that the counters need to be wiped down, and while I’m already doing that I should probably take care of the dishes too. Before I know it, I’ve spent three hours cleaning and my living room still needs to be vacuumed.
Another similar situation is the pens at my desk at work. I am right-handed, and my jar of pens in on the right side of my desk. But the place where I usually write is on the left side of the desk. I can’t tell you how many times a day I notice that there are five or six pens on the left side of my desk. I pick them up, write, and by the time my hand has set them down on the desk, my mind has already moved on to the next task. I probably spend an hour a month moving handfuls of pens back to the pen jar!
All of this is very different when I’m On the Mat. When I’m focusing on staying in the moment and being aware of my body, I do a pretty good job of it. Nowhere perfect, mind you – I won’t be achieving enlightenment anytime soon – but when I’m trying, it works pretty well. It’s just that as soon as I step off the mat, my mind goes a million miles an hour and it’s very hard for me to concentrate on one thing at a time. This is especially true when I’m hungry, running late, tired, overwhelmed, or when someone is waiting on me.
Sometimes I tell myself I’m hurrying because I’m stressed out, but really I think I’m stressed because I’m hurrying. It’s hard sometimes to stop myself when I’m about to spiral out of control into a big ball of stress and bruised elbows, but I’m learning. I have tried to take some different approaches to carrying yoga with me throughout my day, but conscious breath is the only thing that helps. Focusing in on my breathing allows me to center myself and immediately slows my hurried brain. The trick is remembering to do it in the moment.
What about you, dear readers? How do you keep your inner peace going while you’re off the mat?