I find myself — more often than not these days — fried, frazzled and overly fatigued. And although I seem to go through cycles of this state, it constantly takes me by surprise. How can I be frazzled? Aren’t I a “good” Yogi? …. Hmmm … then that question stops me cold. Because, judgment filled as it is, it’s really not about being “good” or “bad” — there’s no such thing. However, this situation feels bad and full of suffering. Now, the Bhagavad Gita explains that “even a little Yoga can save one from much suffering”. Hmm, well, this simple statement can sometimes feel really complicated to execute. First of all, our western, American minds usually turn immediately to Asana when we think of Yoga. And really, Asana is just one of the eight “limbs” outlined by Patanjali within the Yoga Sutras. In Yoga Sutras 2.35-2.45, Patanjali outlined some basic precepts for living our Yoga. If I’m fried, frazzled and fatigued, then I can’t possibly be honoring the first “observance” of the first “limb” (the Yamas) — Ahimsa, (Non-harming/non-violence.)
Now, when I realize this, it doesn’t feel good. There’s a really icky sensation that accompanies the acknowledgement that I’ve been using my habits, patterns, and choices — aka “life” — to beat myself up. Eeewww. (Seems a bit masochistic, doesn’t it?) It’s certainly not that ALL my choices are incorrect, and I am still making good choices (20-minute savasanas, meditation, asana, good nutrition) but some choices/habits can accumulate and create a lot of discomfort in a really short time. In my case, the list of habits includes everything from not honoring sleep, to holding myself to perform at an ideal, perfect level in my job, to using cocktails rather than meditation to de-stress.
Of course, we’re all bound to do any number of things once in a while that don’t, perhaps, fall into the “right action” way of being, or what might be “good” for us in the long view. And truly, there isn’t anything wrong with that — we’re human and it’s all practice. We take a breath and start over. BUT, if we aren’t conscious in our choices, it’s soooo easy to get swept up and the one thing becomes many things and the next thing you know — fried, frazzled and fatigued.
So … Ahimsa. What would it mean to me — to any of us — if we truly lived this concept? For some, Ahimsa literally means not killing/harming anything and it leads to living life as a vegan, for example. (My personal beliefs would have me eliminating plants, too, with that viewpoint, so I’m content with my current omnivorous state — I’m grateful for every living thing in its support of my survival — plants and animals.) For others, it means focusing on one’s thoughts as well as one’s actions. (Judith Hanson Lasater has a lovely article on Ahimsa that touches on this.) As I contemplate Ahimsa, I have to surrender to some realities:
- My job does stress me out, partly because I expect way more from myself than even my supervisor, which means I need to honor my need for anything that brings calm — daily meditation for starters.
- The transition of my partner and I choosing to live together (starting next month), although exciting and love-filled is still an enormous change and requires a whole lot more compassion than I’m providing myself (although he continually offers me compassion.)
- I’m 41, not 20 — I *need* eight or nine hours of sleep nightly and it’s amazing how often I try to pretend otherwise.
- And I need time to appreciate and/or create things of beauty because it feeds my soul.
So, my intention is to continue exploring Ahimsa and ways to cultivate it into my daily life. I took my first step yesterday and re-dedicated myself to my meditation practice. (Yesterday saw me and my cushion out on my deck in late afternoon sunlight for a 30-minute sit.) I’m re-committing myself to nurturing my body with whole foods and creating meals from a place of love, not convenience. I’ve re-birthed my nightly ritual of quiet music, dim lighting, relaxing incense and sleepy tea in order to bring myself to bedtime more gently — and earlier. And I’m even shifting my expectations around my physical workouts. Rather than struggling to get to the gym every morning of the week, I’m moving it to two mornings, and adding in a couple yoga classes in which I can be a student … I clearly have so much learning to continue to do! For that understanding, I’m grateful.
Where do you turn when you’re one or all of fried, frazzled and fatigued? I’d love to hear your ideas, thoughts, and suggestions! What rituals, comforts, habits do you (want to) cultivate? What habits/choices have you struggling? We hold space for each other and we learn from each other. Please share!
(Sleeping illustration via: www.stuartstories.com/stories/fireflyblink.html and Ahimsa Mandala via: http://www.asian-tees.com/2009/09/ahimsa-mandala-shirt-and-another-sale.html)