Last week I came home from picking up the elves at camp and teaching to find my dog with a very infected and swollen paw. At the time I had another kid with me who was sleeping over so I could not race out and take the dog to the vet. I was pretty sure she had stepped on a bee and I knew she had a sore paw, but in a matter of hours it had gotten bad. I was worried sick.
The next day I took her to the vet who told me it likely was a small infection but we’d treat her like it was something more. I started spinning in my mind: what if she didn’t get better? what if she was not healed by the time we had to leave for our vacation? how was I going to deal with the cone she had to wear on her head? what if it was something worse than infection?
All of these questions took immense amounts of mental energy and physical energy and truly, spiritual energy. They kept me up at night, they kept me fiddling with her paw, they kept me from enjoying other things that were going on around me. 48 hours after she started on medicine her paw started looking remarkably better and now today, after four days she is nearly back to normal.
Yet I spent so much time and energy on worrying about how she was that I am drained and the whole weekend is a blur. I could not remember the name of something, I forgot I had a dentist appointment and made a conflicting plan and I truly neglected to be present for days. I spent all that time lingering in the unknown and the what ifs.
I share this truth because I know that many of you are the same: instead of being truly there in the moment you postulate and predict and plan for the future or you fester and rehash the past. This drawing away from the present is so harmful because it not only increases the stress levels of things like cortisol in our body, but it keeps us from truly living and breathing in the now.
We allow ourselves too often to stand at the edge wondering what we will do if we fall, if we trip, if we get hurt, if we wimp out, etc. and never truly look at the view from where we are. We are missing so much in the distractions of our minds and emotions that we cannot be in the life we live.
For me these distractions show up as anger and shortness, concern and headaches. I have no tolerance for everything and I take out my concerns with raised voices to my husband and my kids. I cannot see that I am doing these things because I am so wrapped up in the land of what ifs and the planning for contingencies.
So today I am going to return to my practice of being present. This life practice is one that takes effort and dedication and turning off of the distractions. It is returning to what I know to be true and not what might be. It is seeing the sun and the stars. It is touching the Earth with my toes and my heart with my hand. It is listening to my breath and feeling it in my body. It is telling those I love how I feel and stepping away from the things that are not good. It is sitting in stillness with no phone and no internet. It is acknowledging my fears rather than running to control the sources of them.
It is being present in the now.
It is feeling, seeing, breathing, being.
It is a life practice for me, not just a daily one.
Today and every day it is my yoga.
It is stepping up to the edge and seeing the view.
** for more about how our yoga practice informs our life off the mat join me and Liz Vartanian for part three of our eight limb // life course on pratyahara (like this post) and dharana***