As much as I like to avoid cliches, it's hard resisting this one: tragedy takes us back to our yogic principles.
Blog by Francesca [Loveinvoke blogger-in-chief]
It’s such a trite thing to say after a tragedy.
"This (insert tragic event) really reminds us to treasure every day and enjoy every moment."
It’s trite, but true. And it leads us back to one of the key teachings of yoga – the importance of being present.
This is something I’ve been grappling with over the past two months since I embarked on a journey to complete Invoke’s 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training program. The course has challenged me mentally and physically as I’ve learned more about the poses of yoga and worked on executing them with precision. But it’s also stretched me to contemplate the way I live my life and my day-to-day behavior that I’ve come to accept as normal.
The lesson of being in the moment came into play one night as I was preparing to do our written yoga training homework assignment. I had allocated a window of time for completing it –a precise half-hour in between when I wrapped up my work day and the time I left the office to catch an evening yoga class. As soon as I read the assignment, though, I changed my plans for the night.
Our yoga homework was to learn about the three different states of nature present in humans: one of ambition and constant action (rajas); one of relaxation and inertia (tamas); and one of a harmonious balance of the two (sattva). Then we were to write about the one we most frequently experience.
All I had to do was think about my busy little evening agenda to realize how much I was inclined to let rajas take control. And with a sense of sheepishness, I decided to head home and enjoy the evening, instead of rushing from one thing to another.
When I got home that night, I tried to apply my newfound conceptualization of my rajas to my evening routine. As I made dinner, instead of throwing things in a pan on autopilot while talking on the phone, I took the time to enjoy the process of cooking: the cutting of vegetables, the preparation required to boil water, the smell of ingredients mixing together. I ate more slowly, too, and enjoyed the meal, rather than inhaling dinner and letting my mind rush off to the next thing on my agenda.
This practice – and my subsequent reflection on rajas through my yoga homework that night – illuminated how much I allow myself to zip from one thing to the next in life. I always think five steps ahead. I always try to do too many things. I often push myself beyond my capacity, failing to sleep enough or to take time to slow down and smell the roses.
I’m not alone. Many of us do these things.
And yet, there is so much joy in appreciating each moment for its unique value. As much as life can feel redundant at times, no moment is exactly like another. So why don’t we savor them more?
And why does it take a tragedy like the events in Boston this past week to remind us how precious – and how fragile – those moments truly are?
Life is best when we live in the present. I’m glad for the way that yoga reminds me of that.
Jarosz is a former journalist who loves to write, practice yoga, run and lead communications efforts for The Mind Trust, an Indianapolis-based education reform nonprofit. Follow her on Twitter @francescajarosz.