I am taking August “off.”
But — I’m not referring to some extended vacation where I sit around and do nothing. Hell no. I’m too Type A to do anything close to that.
Rather, I’m putting my everyday life here in Chicago on pause to focus on “my other life,” the one where I am a student and teacher of yoga. I’m hoping that by shifting my focus away from “working girl” life, and making space for this thing that inspires intense joy and wonder, I’ll make some beautiful new discoveries in the process.
For 25 days, I’ll be traveling with a focus on improving my knowledge and understanding of yoga and meditation with the intent of becoming a better teacher, a better friend and a more self-aware human being.
Call it a mini-sabbatical.
It’s all mapped out: a few days with Grandma in Schenectady; a yoga workshop at the Kripalu Center with Shiva Rea; a few weeks practicing with a yoga community in Ubud, Bali; a week working at a wellness camp for adults in the Adirondacks of upstate New York. Then it’s back to Chicago … although, I haven’t bought my return ticket yet.
I’m forcing myself to create this space before plunging into a new job search, as I’ve left my current role for new role TBD. I acknowledge my current mental-emotional exhaustion and just don’t want to jump right into the “next thing.”
But “forcing” may not be the appropriate verb choice here. I want to do this. It feels right. I have the opportunity to create this sort of space for myself right now, so why wouldn’t I seize it? Especially when the only responsibility I have right now is to myself?
I realize that not everyone will think this is practical or appropriate; but it feels both of these things to me. So haters can keep their judgment and jealousy to themselves, thank you very much.
Taking a breath (metaphorically + literally)
I’m a big believer that sometimes you just need to put life on pause. Maybe not life; rather, the aspects of life that create the buzz-buzz-buzz that drowns out your inner voice — that voice of truth and infinite wisdom. We all have it, this inner wisdom, if we listen intently enough and honor our bodies’ responses to the world around us.
Think about it: When something doesn’t “feel” right, your chest might contract and a heavy ball suddenly manifests in the gut; but when something feels “right,” the chest might expand and you feel positive. Our body and heart, they send us signals — because they know.
Do you follow the direction that your body gives you in times of both questioning and elation? Or do you allow the brain to interject?
Getting out of the brain is tough. Really, really, really tough. I get it. Believe me. People think that just because I practice and teach yoga (and don’t have a husband, children or pets) it comes easily. Not true. So not true.
Quieting the brain requires intense discipline against the beautiful cacophony of life, regardless of what shape, size and volume that comes in.
I struggle with it, just like everybody else. The key is making the time, creating that space, within the juggle of life.
We can’t all be monks living in a cave in a remote mountain top. (Cloistering yourself away for extended periods of time isn’t appropriate for the vast majority of us anyway.)
I’m also aware that not everyone can take an entire month of August “off” to learn, explore and listen. In fact, this probably seems like a privileged move. I recognize the charmed position that I’m in and don’t want to sound insensitive to each person’s unique life situation.
But people, listen up: It ultimately begins with YOU. YOUR intention. Uncovering the path to “space” that is appropriate for YOUR life without completely disrupting it.
I’m doing me. How are YOU doing you?
Creating space: baby steps + big steps
Sometimes it’s as simple as practicing deep inhales/exhales while doing laundry or the dishes — don’t laugh, but seemingly baby steps such as these can be HUGE in the long run. (This, my friends, is also practicing yoga off the mat.)
The exhausted mother might find her space by gifting herself a spin class once a week, asking her partner or finding a babysitting to tend to the kids while she focuses on “me time.”
The lonely bachelor might find it by going for a run a few times a week, just to “clear the mind” and uncover a mental-emotional state that is empowering and confidence-boosting.
The overworked CEO might find it by volunteering at a local hospital, cradling and rocking newborns in the nursery, nourishing their first days of life with the tender touch they crave while awake.
For this working girl in the city, yoga and meditation are my anchors when I need to create space in my noisy life — which is why they are at the core of my “25 Days of Yoga” experiment.
I hope my decision can inspire others to hold a mirror up to their own lives and find ways to create space wherever they feel cramped or constrained.
Where do you want to create more space in your life? And what baby steps can you take RIGHT NOW to make it happen?