I’m sure you all have experienced that feeling that something just has to be attended to. Right this instant. No matter what. Drop everything. I’ve had many of those of late: The email that has to be written, making my morning walk just a bit shorter and a lot more stressful. Trying to remember, “Did I text her back? Oh, dear. OK, I’ll do it at the next stop light.” Or those phone calls I make late at night because I’ve only remembered them right before bed – even though I know it’s irritating for the person on the other end. A participant from the India trip has already posted photos on her Facebook page, and I haven’t even downloaded mine off my phone yet! Facebook is urgency incarnate. Drama is urgency on steroids. I began to understand these urgencies in a new light on my recent trip to the Maldives and India on our 2016 India Transformative Journey.
Every day on this 3-week trip, I taught yoga – no matter how cramped our practice space; no matter how hot it was; and no matter how many hours we had just travelled. Most days, we practiced twice a day. Even so, it still took me almost the entire 3 weeks to eliminate all the urgent clutter I had unconsciously brought with me – one dump run at a time. I found that I had packed more than clothes in my baggage, and this sense of urgency was interfering with my ability to experience the remarkably undemanding environment that now surrounded me. The warmth of the Maldives wind on my skin competed with the urgency of my upcoming class schedule back home; I struggled to savor the single delicious feeling of squeezing sand between my toes, as I juggled planning and problem-solving activities as if still in Seattle, and not a universe away. The Maldives have the most beautiful water I ever swam in. So I asked myself, “What could be so pressing at this moment that it requires me to push aside all the simple pleasures I have at my fingertips – great food, beautiful lodging, easy-going people, and absolutely no demands?”
As the days passed, I saw how these feelings of urgency were driving my life. I also found that, when I let go of what felt urgent, the truly important things became clearer and clearer to me. One day, as I was teaching yoga on the beach with a fabulous sunset as my backdrop, I had this thought: “The wi-fi here is so limited that I’ll have to rush back to town after class to beat the crowds, and email my friend back home who is having a difficult time.” I then watched myself transform by putting the thought down, urgency and all, taking a deep breath, exhaling, and letting the sense of what was truly important in this moment stir in my belly: “Connect with yourself so you can connect with others without urgency.”
Soon afterward, I noticed in those daily yoga classes that my students were transforming as well. Early on in the trip, I observed that their bodies looked tense, even when lying down; their facial expressions showed effort; their poses looked unstable. Now their breathing was calmer and deeper, their shoulders more relaxed, their poses softer and gentler. Collectively, the more they relaxed and “arrived” in their new environment, the less effort and more stability I saw in their poses. What a gift for a teacher to witness such a transformation!
Now that I am home, I’m trying a few new things. Staying calm and avoiding drama is high on my list — no small feat for this Italian woman! My favorite change: I don’t check my phone or email between 9pm and 9am. That time is for me – to read, meditate, lie on my Somat, and be quiet. And, most importantly, to disengage with the triggers that feed the incredibly urgent, exceptionally critical, worry-laden, fret-filled demands that are banging on my door!