Sunday, November 28, 2010
Keeping It Alive...
First of all, I hope you all had wonderful Thanksgivings! Mine was pretty awesome--my brother and sister-in-law and my two (ferociously fast-growing) nephews came for a visit, which made me feel like the coolest aunt in town. The picture above is of the two of them, and has nothing to do with this post, but has everything to do with how ADORABLE they both are.
Okay, that's my proud aunt plug. On now to other matters...
So, I'm teaching...have I mentioned that I'm teaching? And I'm teaching more and more...everytime I get a phone-call to teach a class I feel like I've been sprinkled with confetti (p.s. if you're in the LA area and you want to come to class, I've put a little schedule widget on the ol' blog-o-saurus, just look down and to your right.) Anyhow, it's pretty awesome, taking that seat at the front of the class and just trying to blast off in the hopes that I actually have something useful to offer.
And one of the unexpected side-effects is the way in which my focus has shifted, as this practice that has for so long been purely for pleasure becomes attached to more things...to money and to schedule and to some question about larger purpose...I have quickly become faced with questions about how it is that we keep things interesting for ourselves? In particular, how do we keep things interesting for ourselves when that demon RESPONSIBILITY newly becomes attached to what we are doing?
Now, let me just preface this by saying that I am not at the moment having any trouble with lack of interest...everything is too new and too much like living in a brand new house for that to be a problem. HOWEVER, what I have noticed, even in these first few months of teaching, is that my newfound sense of accountability in a world where once there was none, can impact the JOY of my practice, if I'm not careful.
What I mean by that is, I find myself forgetting and then remembering that I am ONLY doing this because I love it. And if the "love it" quotient gets overrun by results-driven thinking (hello, acting career)...well, excuse my language but it just wouldn't be f-ing worth it. For whatever reason in this field of doing yoga and writing about yoga and now teaching yoga, I am unwilling to give up the joy of the practice. Just...totally unwilling. I have never been that wise as an actor...joy has been often the first thing sacrificed on the altar of "I. Want. This." So, BECAUSE I feel a bit wiser about all this (I did just turn 30, you know), and because more and more work seems to be showing up, and probably also because there is a deeply personal component to my practice, this idea--this question of how it is we keep things fresh and alive is one that's been on my mind lately.
And in all my thinking, the thing I've realized, and the thing which has been reflected back to me over and over again is this: (It's so simple. Why is it always so simple?!)
1. In order for anything to have any lasting impact in my life, it has to have consistency.
2. In order for there to be consistency, there has to be (gulp) discipline.
3. If I don't like doing something, I'm going to quit doing it eventually. Therefore:
4. My JOY will, without effort, equal discipline. (I.e., if I like it, I won't quit.)
This has been the case with my yoga practice, with my eating habits, with my relationships...with my burgeoning meditation practice. I mean, seriously, I have been trying to start a meditation practice for YEARS, and always I've quit. Over and over and over again I've quit. Do you know whyyyyyyy? Because I've been trying to do it right, and I've found it totally and utterly SUCKY because of that. Finally, finally, finally I have what I can call a meditation practice--at least the beginnings of one--and do you know whyyyyyyy? Because I finally decided that if I wasn't enjoying the actual act of sitting on my cushion for those 15 minutes in the morning, as it occurred, then what in the world was the point? So I found a way in that actually made me FEEL GOOD while I was doing it.
And, voila! Not only do I have a practice, but I miss it when I don't do it. I find myself actually looking forward to it on a daily basis. Which is...new.
This is one of those secrets, it seems, that some people just know intuitively (you know who you are) and others of us have to learn by repeatedly making ourselves miserable with trying and not making any headway until finally we just toss our hands in the air and say "I give up! I just want a little happy mojo in my life!" and Blammo! Forward movement.
Because, in the joy of doing there is openness...there is curiousity...there is relaxation. There are all of the things that we label as attributes of successful work and living. But most of all, there is just a deep steady sense of being alive. Of having purpose. And THAT is the thing we're hoping all the hours of sitting or moving or loving or chowing down are going to get us anyway, isn't it?
There is just this fundamental practicality which is: enjoyment (true, deep, skin-tingling enjoyment) is the best recipe for not quitting. I think it must be the food that will power feeds on.
That's a t-shirt saying if I ever heard one: "Joy. It's the food that Will Power feeds on."
Oh my god, I will give a million dollars to anyone who makes that a t-shirt and sends it to me.*
* not really.