A few days ago I had a super full plate. I was preparing for a training, company was coming to my home to stay and I had the regular business of living with grocery shopping, errands and work. I had it all planned out. If I could get the training prep done by noon, I could grab a quick bite, be on my way to drop off an Amazon return, then on to the grocery store, then home in time to clean the bathrooms and vacuum and prepare for dinner.
How do you think it all worked out?
I’ll spare you the stressful details but suffice it to say the training prep wrapped up around 3. The rest of the day could have unfolded in several ways. One you may be imagining now with a slow shake of the head, that familiar stress rising knowing you’re not going to be able to do it all. But what about the alternative? What about just going with the flow?
Seems impossible. But that is a big part of Aparigraha, the last yama in our first limb of yoga. Non-attachment.
If you’re reading yoga texts, like the sutras, this particular tenet of yoga seems way more severe than letting your overly ambitiously planned day unfold organically. And, at its roots, it is. This yama is asking us to be attached to nothing. Not our children, our pets, our partners, jobs, ideas, body, mind, ego or schedule. It is asking us to trust the process of life, to lean into synchronicity, to allow the flow to guide us. It knows best. Flow’s other names are The Universe, God, Divinity.
Most of us are still pretty human with all that package includes - perfectionism, righteousness, judgment, criticism – and asking us to not be attached to that furry creature wagging its tail at us full of unconditional love at the end of a hard day is too big of an ask.
So, we begin where we can. For many, it will be letting go of the outcome of things. Letting go of expectations and anticipations. Letting go of how it’s supposed to be. This is hard enough. We put a lot of preparation and energy into how things are supposed to turn out and it rarely goes according to plan. A rainy day can ruin an outdoor wedding. A cancelled flight can destroy a weeklong vacation planned and paid for in advance. But rain and cancellations happen all the time. It’s our attitude, our expectation, our reaction, that ruins these things.
What if, instead, we took a deep breath and allowed the next step to present itself? Often, we are guided to what we need to do or know for our own growth. Many times, that is uncomfortable at best. Remember: nothing is happening TO you, it is all happening FOR you.
Let that sink in a little, it’s trying to help you shift.
So, the rest of my day? Once I was in my car, commencing the running around part, I let go. I really had no choice. I took a deep breath, told myself that all this stress, all this rushing to get stuff done was my life. Right now, this is my life. Is this how I want to be? I’m preparing for two somewhat familiar events and all I can control is my part in them. I cannot control what my company thinks of my home or what the students will think or how they’ll react to the training. I can only do my best and doing my best means being calm and centered and joyful.
I changed the radio station in my car. Frank Sinatra was singing. I reordered my priorities and just did the next thing on the list. In the back of my mind was this refrain: it’ll all get done, whatever is supposed to get done, will.
To preserve your own sanity, remember: every moment of every day is your life, you are not preparing to live, you ARE living. How are you in this moment? And this moment? And the next? Make your plan, execute to the best of your calm and joyful ability and watch with curiosity what unfolds for you. Let go, flow with the current of life and marvel at where it takes you.