“Is now a good time?”
In our crowded, cluttered, overscheduled modern American life, it seems like the answer to this question is usually a resounding, “No.” When faced with yet another request for your time, how often do you find yourself thinking: No, now is most decidedly NOT a good time! I’m in the middle of something, or I have too much going on! We tend to be good at excess, right? Too much to do, too much to think about, too much of this, too much of that. Amid the relentless stream of daily obligations, responsibilities and tasks demanding our increasingly scattered attention, the one thing we seemingly don’t have enough of is time.
Alternatively, perhaps your life is pretty chill at the moment, and while you actually do have the time to start something new, you think: Not now, the timing’s not right, or I’m not ready for this. Either way, we tend to not allow for now.
In yogic thinking, the answer is always, “Yes, now is a good time.” In fact, now is the only time. In the Yoga Sutras, Master Patanjali says: “Atha yoga anushasanam,” meaning, “Now, the teachings of yoga.” Patanjali teaches us that now is the time to begin yoking together the disparate parts of ourselves into a fully conscious and harmonious human being so we can mitigate the fluctuations of the mind that perpetuate our own suffering. When’s the best time to stop your own suffering? According to Patanjali, NOW — not at some later date when the timing is perfect and you have your you-know-what together and you’re good and READY.
I’m not talking about adding yet another task to your “To Do” list. I’m not advocating for putting yet another thing on your plate, if your plate is full and your cup runneth over. For example, if you’re already teaching a dozen yoga classes a week at 3 different studios, you probably shouldn’t take on another. There’s such as thing as too much of a good thing, and the burnout struggle is all too real.
What I’m talking about is “Big Picture Stuff,” things that could have significant reverberations in your immediate and long-term future if only you allowed yourself to say “yes” to the possibility now. The timing may never seem right for taking on a daily meditation practice, entering into a serious relationship, starting your own business, etc. But yoga and meditation can teach us how to trust the timing of our lives and see the potency of the present moment.
So how do we allow for now?
Drop the timeline storyline. Aren’t we always in the middle of something? Buddhist and yogic teachings say being in the middle is exactly where we’re meant to be. On our mat or on the meditation cushion, we’re right in the middle of it all, balancing opposing forces, hugging into the midline, coming back to center and abiding there with steadiness and ease. Much to our own detriment, it’s the story we tell ourselves about time that makes now “not a good time.”
Make space for grace. Allow for the thought of a new undertaking to hold your attention, without judgment, aversion, or grasping. This is hard to do, especially when our inner narrator may be telling a compelling story about why we just can’t take this on now. But when you make mental space for it, grace can come in.
Take the next skillful action. When you let the “no-can-do” narrative go and make some mental space, you can take the next skillful action. What is a skillful action? It’s one that enables you to “flirt with your edges” (as master yoga teacher Erich Schiffmann says) without going outside of yourself.
Allowing for now could bring growth, expansion and transformation. Patanjali says: “When you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: Your mind transcends limitations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great, and wonderful world.”
Now seems like a good time for that.
Lauren discovered yoga in early 2007 after graduating from college. As a former athlete and gym enthusiast, she found herself seeking a more balanced and holistic approach to exercise and overall wellness. After hearing about the myriad health benefits of yoga, she signed up for a beginner class at the Red Bank YMCA. Despite feeling inflexible, gangly and incredibly awkward, Lauren was intrigued by the practice of yoga. She started taking classes at Dancing Foot Yoga in Red Bank and fell in love with Anusara yoga, a style of hatha yoga known for its universal principles of alignment and emphasis on opening to grace both on and off the mat. After six years of study and practice, Lauren completed a 200-hour teacher training with Emily Huresky and Dina Crosta in 2013. She now teaches alignment-based vinyasa classes in the Anusara tradition. Lauren is also an English and Spanish teacher at Trinity Hall, an all-girls independent school in Tinton Falls, NJ, where she finds joy and inspiration on a daily basis.[/box]
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