There’s a saying, “A mile wide and an inch deep.” I heard this many years ago, and it struck me, because I realized it was something that I did all the time. Beside taking care of three children and a home, I was doing yoga, and taking horseback riding lessons. I loved to hike or take walks in nature. I spent an inordinate amount of time doing crafts like knitting, sewing or hooking rugs. I poured over cookbooks and spent a lot of time preparing great meals. I noodled around on the guitar. I was (and still am) a voracious reader. And I was doing a lot of painting, too, on commission. For my “down time” I’d watch too much TV and read fashion magazines. (This was before the Internet, so Facebook and Instagram weren’t around, but those also became distractions in their time.) While most of these things seem quite edifying, I was doing none of them with any sense of cultivating depth or understanding. Generally, most of these activities were all just surface, done for entertainment, to remain busy when I was bored.
Hearing the “Mile Wide” quote, it dawned on my that I had a desire to learn to do one thing really well in this lifetime, and that one thing was Ashtanga Yoga. Of all my activities, I knew that it was the best for my wellbeing in the long run. I loved how it made me feel, inside and out. I was intrigued by the centuries of knowledge that could be studied, and the states of being that could be experienced. I had a passion for it. But, I still struggled to find the time to practice. While I couldn’t and didn’t want to stop parenting and caring for my home (that was my first priority) I realized it was time to let some of my less edifying and less productive activities drop away, and make room for some depth in my life.
What I let go of:
I let go of anything that I could not devote conscientious attention to, and more importantly, I let go of anything that didn’t bring me joy.* (This is an adaptation of the KonMari method, from the recent book, The Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up. A great book if you want to start learning how to declutter your home and your life - highly recommended!)
What I didn’t let go of:
Focusing more on these joy-bringing activities, in addition to my Ashtanga practice, has simplified and enriched my life considerably. I feel less stressed and hectic. My home is less cluttered with stuff. I have more time to do what I love: take care of my family, do my practice, hike, and teach Ashtanga Yoga to my wonderful students.
What can you let go of, to make more room in your life for what brings you joy?
*Granted, sometimes Ashtanga Yoga does not bring me “joy.” Sometimes it’s a slog, and sometimes its really uncomfortable, and sometimes it’s frustrating. But, I’ve found that there is joy in the effort of just doing the practice, even on the days when it doesn’t feel “good.” To sense that I have a deep understanding and connection to my breath, a relationship of awareness and acceptance of my body, and the ability to begin to see more clearly how to act compassionately and be fully human through this practice makes the less “joyful” times worth the effort to get beyond them. Because I always seem to get beyond them, even when practice seems awful!