By Dana Gornall
I haven’t gone to yoga in 3 weeks.
It hasn’t been that I don’t want to go, life just keeps getting in the way. The school year is coming to a close and there are the end of the year activities like assemblies, recitals and final exams. I look at my calendar for the summer and see it has filled up already. It’s frustrating—trying to balance out the everyday responsibility of being a working, single mom and fitting in personal growth, exercise and time to just be.
I’m trying to find enlightenment, goddammit.
It seems that even the moments when I am able to set aside time, things keep getting in the way. Just yesterday I had a good stretch of hours to devote to writing and editing. I had my morning planned out: get kids to school, make a healthy breakfast, finish up a couple of edits and settle into writing, but my son surprised me by coming home early since he is taking his final exams and asked if we could get some lunch. Agreeing, I got dressed and headed to the car, and then he asked if he could practice driving, and if he could practice driving, could we also drop off one of his job applications?
It was like a teenage version of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.
I could have said no. I could have told him to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and that I had things to do. I could have complained that I never get any free time, and all of this would have been valid and true. But as I sat in the car, my hand balled up, clutching the bottom edge of my seatbelt and my foot reaching out every once in awhile toward an imaginary brake pedal on the passenger side, I didn’t regret for a second that plans had changed.
Isn’t that really the point of mindfulness and meditation, going to yoga and reading all of those spiritual books? Is the point of all of that practice to be “enlightened” or it is to be able to handle the stressful and unexpected (like teaching your teenage son how to drive)?
While I would like to wake up every morning and do a full yoga practice, sit and meditate for 30 minutes, then go cook a healthy vegan breakfast and wash it down with green tea, that isn’t typically how my mornings go. Hell, that isn’t ever how my mornings go. So instead, I aim for moments in between all of the chaos—deep breaths after a few sips of some strongly brewed coffee, reading personal growth and buddhism books before bed (even if I only get in a few pages before the heaviness of my eyelids take over) and going to yoga when my schedule allows.
It isn’t the hours set aside for practice that matters as much as your reaction in the seconds that follow when everything unexpectedly runs amuck—and it often does.
Last night, after everyone had finally gone to bed, the television was shut off and the cell phones had all gone dark and plugged into each of their chargers, I stood in my bedroom and reached down into a forward bend. Feeling the tightness of my hamstrings, I breathed out. Fingers grazing the floor I stepped back into Down Dog, stretching out my calf muscles. I lowered myself down onto the carpet, brushing away a small fluff of dog fur and pressed up into Up Dog position.
So maybe next week I will get to yoga class, but maybe I won’t. Maybe I will stay awake and meditate, or maybe I will collapse into a sound sleep. Maybe in the morning I will make a healthy breakfast and get a little writing done before work, or maybe the dog will puke up a sock. It really is hard to tell.
Maybe for me there is no Bodhi tree, but rather just a big basket of overflowing laundry.
Editor: Ty H. Phillips
- The Power of Choice When Things Feel Out of Your Control (and What the Buddha Got Right About It) - July 21, 2023
- Why That Productivity App Won’t Fix Your Overwhelmed Mind - July 11, 2023
- Chasing Sunsets: A Story about a Dog - January 19, 2023