Yesterday when I was home with a sick elf I decided to make lentil soup. It is one of the staples in our winter diet so no real surprise that I had all the fixings for it. However, the last batch I made was missing something; it was bland and only sort of tasty. With that in mind I decided to crank up the amount of spices I added to the pot this time. I grabbed the curry powder, the cayenne pepper, some hot sauce and what I thought was the cumin and dumped the lot in with all the lentils and mirepoix I had. But, it smelled different: not like a familiar Indian soup, but more complex. Suddenly I realized what I had done. I had grabbed the cinnamon instead of the cumin. They look virtually identical and I grabbed the cinnamon! I had over-seasoned my soup with the wrong spice! Quickly I grabbed a spoon and scooped as much of the cinnamon out of the pot, added cumin (carefully this time) and some oregano for balance. But it was too late, the lentil soup had be doused with cinnamon. I hoped for the best and laughed at my mistake.
I share this kitchen error (as I did with my class last night) because it is not only funny, but it also is a reminder of how trying something new is not always a bad thing. I am stuck at home with a sick elf and have managed to get subs for three of my four classes in the past 48 hours. The students I regularly teach have been left in great hands, but just not mine. As a yoga student myself I know the disappointment that comes with not having your regular teacher there when you expect it. But the freshness that you find from new approaches, new language and new sequences is so welcome. I hope my students enjoyed these amazing teachers as much as I do when I get a chance to take their classes.
Anticipation of how things will go is a risky path. We assume we know the results and then find ourselves disappointed, wishing and let down. In truth we spend so much time hoping for things to be a certain way that we often forget to look at how they are in the moment. Yoga reminds us to stop, go inside and see how we are, right then and not before or after that time. It is about immediacy and appreciation rather than wishing and hoping. I think that this awareness is the real gift of the practice. It is this attention that I cultivate when I sit in Sukhasana, it is the letting go of the what if and the awareness of what actually is.
The soup turned out to be dynamite beyond my expectations. The teachers I got to sub my classes are among the best. The elf is starting to feel better and I am drinking in the downtime I get to spend with him. The present moments are such a gift.
“He who controls the spice controls the universe.”
― Frank Herbert, Dune
When you have a time that things seem to go differently than you planned, when your anticipation lets you down and your vision for the future gets cloudy, stop future gazing. Spice up the present time, go inside and see what is actually happening right here and right now. Eat up all the newness, the fresh flavors of this moment and relish in the fact that you have a chance to experience them.
Sprinkle a little extra something on what you currently have and savor the taste of where and who you are.
You might appreciate the present more, look less at how you are feeling disappointed or wishing you were elsewhere or doing something other than you are.
Trust me, I know. If nothing else, you might get a great story to share or at least a delicious pot of soup for dinner.