My day is carefully plotted out to maximize production. This is a discipline. I’m quite proud of my productiveness. I recount my day’s accomplishments with glee. Then the glee turns into frustration as I survey all the things I didn’t accomplish.
The downside of “discipline” is that it is closely related to pressure. We never get done everything we want to get done. We never do it as well as we’d like to do it. No matter how we structure our to-do lists, schedules and other time-management techniques, some things fall through the cracks.
These things happen and we begin to beat ourselves up. We wonder whether we’ll ever be successful, be meaningful, be beautiful. We run around like maniacal wind-up toys, trying to accomplish something–whether it’s the perfect job, house, spouse, children or volunteer of the year award. We are deflated and sometimes even hopeless because we never make the mark.
Look, I’ve read all the books and blogs. I’ve listened to all the advice. Heck, I’ve given all the advice. And still, all this sneaks in.
I am actually tired of hearing about how we have to affirm that we are all good enough just as we are. Not because it’s not true, not because it’s not needed, but because it just adds to the guilt and pressure. Now I’m not enough and I’m not even enough of an enough to accept my enoughness. The quotes about love and acceptance are always inspirational and I always want to print them all out and frame them in the hopes that somehow it will actually sink in but it never does. I never spend a whole day happy and excited about “living the now!” and “feeling God’s love!” and “knowing I’m enough!”
I have been running this personal experiment with silence and stillness lately. So far I’m very not good at it. Sitting in stillness falls off my list quite often because I have all these things to do. But I have done it more in the past 2 weeks than I did in the 2 weeks before that, and the 2 weeks before that, and so on, so I suppose it is progress.
Yesterday morning I arrived at yoga early. I went into the studio and sat. Quietly. ( I have to admit, this desire to get there early was in part because for the past three weeks, someone has been taking my space. It’s the one by the window, middle row. Now you know. Stop stealing it.) So I claimed my space, got out my mat and sat. I began to fidget after about 3 seconds. I began to think of all the things I could be doing. I realized this time could be better spent making a to-do list. I tried drawing my attention back to my breath, just like they say to do.
Notice the thoughts, then let them go.
I spent a lot of time noticing thoughts and then trying to let them go. When that didn’t work, I tried to shove them out the door. It became a wrestling match. I lost. And then…
And then I had a few blissful moments of actual, honest-to-God stillness. In this moment of stillness it came…the realization that there was real life right here while I did nothing, thought nothing, was nothing. There is meaning here, in a classroom filled with wanna-be yogis unrolling their mats and chatting about their weekends, right here in the too-loud mind of someone who thinks too much, right here in the very stillness.
I don’t know what all this means or how to put it in words that will help you find your own space for stillness. I just know that in that space I found rest and grace. In this silence, all my failures–for that matter, all my accomplishments–didn’t matter. They would never matter and this a profound relief. In this stillness, there was Enough. More importantly, there was enough enoughness to make up for all that I lack. I am not enough. I never will be. But in the quiet stillness there was Enough for me to soak in and soak up, enough to take with me. Enough to share.
By 2:00 that feeling had faded and I was back to wind-up toy status. It’s a work in progress. But it was a nudge I needed. I know it is there again–for me and for you, rest and grace and Enough, all waiting in the stillness.