Split the difference

My dad has had some heart issues recently and it has made me think more critically about lifestyle choices. I find that we get caught up going from one thing to the next without ever really stopping to think about what is most important to us. Bottom line—we cannot do it all. Life becomes a balancing act.

In practice, if I get disappointed in not being able to give enough effort into a certain posture or focus on a certain element in my practice, Zoe will often stop the cycle of self criticism and say, “Okay, if you were to focus more on ______ , where would you take that effort from in your practice?”. We only have so much energy we can give. If I want to focus on my jump backs on each vinyasa, I am going to have a lot less effort left to give at budjapindasana ((though the two are directly related)). So, I have to stop and look at the priorities in my practice. What work will be the most efficient? Some days, working on jump backs is more important to me—the work I am doing here will help with budjapindasana. I have to face jump backs countless times everyday, so I might as well practice them as efficiently as possible. But, there is valuable work to learn from budjapindasana that will help me with jump backs as well. So maybe some days I only do really hard jump back work on every other vinyasa and focus extra hard on budjapindasana those days. Finding balance might mean you approach your practice a little differently every day.

Often we have broader goals of where we want to go with the postures. But my injuries have taught me to look at my practice differently. Rather than thinking about where I get in the postures, I am focusing on the work that I am doing in them (again, thanks to Zoe). I am learning how to do the postures more correctly and efficiently so that I can have a sustainable practice throughout my life. Each day when I step on my mat, I think about a key component I want to focus on and notice how that element changes my practice. The work is never over.

The greater point to my vinyasa babble is that we cannot do it all. We cannot give everything 100%. Our time and energy are limited. So, in this life, I think you have to pick your top priorities and think of what you need to do every single day to live up to those in the most efficient way possible. My dad tries so hard and is always working. But, he is slowly sinking. He can’t do it all. Constant work and inadequate rest makes it impossible and you are unable to fully enjoy any experience when you are spread too thin. We need to prioritize what matters most to us in life and then seek the ways that we can achieve those goals the most efficiently. Our energy and time are the most precious things we have as they directly impact our every interaction and the course of our daily lives. So, we must cherish them and give them to the things that fill us up the most and support the things we love.

I gave my dad the advice of writing down the top five priorities in his life and then thinking about what he needs to do every single day to maintain those five things. I did the same thing. Maybe five is too many—five is a lot of things to give your effort towards. But by prioritizing those five things, we can work to finding the most efficient ways to give our effort to those things to make them sustainable for a lifetime. It will be a balancing act—some days you can only put your energy into two or three and then revisit the other elements with more effort on other days. Or some days a light effort into every aspect. But, I think that by listing those efforts, it eliminates the lure of distractions that inevitably come our way and provides a way to think about how to most efficiently live up to the things that matter most.

My practice is in my top five. It teaches me so much and keeps me grounded. It is essential to my life. But, it is also something that requires a lot of energy, time, commitment, and affects every other aspect of my life. I know how important my practice is to me, but other things are too. I need to make sure that I make the work in my practice as efficient as possible so that I still have energy for the other things that matter in my life. This will help to ensure a sustainable practice that I can maintain throughout my life. And this also helps me to recognize that not being a 100% hardcore Ashtangi is okay. On the mat or not, the practice impacts my daily life. And I am learning to split the difference between the many colors and blurred lines that make me, me.

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