To Be Idle: Embracing Stillness

This weekend I am quite bummed that I needed to cancel all of my yoga classes and miss my walks to Farmers Markets due to a knee injury. To say that I was looking forward to my leisurely, yet active weekend is an understatement. I recently returned back New York City from three weeks of traveling in Colorado to see family and spend the holidays in the winter wonderland of the Rockies and San Jauns - and while the journey was amazing - I was ready to 'get back into the swing of things' and get back into my workout routine. 

"The Wilsons," San Jaun Mountains outside of Telluride Colorado 

Being still is a challenge for me. It's true that I speak of stillness often. Yet, most of the ways in which I achieve stillness in my mind is through movement. Hiking, walking, jogging, yoga...

While I find much peace and clarity in physically active meditations, sitting meditations have taken a backseat in my life recently and perhaps it's time that I begin to embrace them more.

My recent trip to Colorado was beautiful in many ways. Colorado - the West - the mountains - holds a special place in my heart. And it was wonderful to spend time with my family and discover a relationship that I didn't see coming (yes, that's right, single no more! <3).

Yet, the visit was also very challenging for me. Emotionally, spiritually, and physically. I know that am not the only one who feels a disruption when they 'go back home.' And certainly, around the holidays. Especially when the holidays (or season) may bring back painful memories. When your the visitor, you are often somewhat dependent on others' time and schedules, you're in someone else's space and home and no matter how comfortable you may feel with them - it's still not yours. And while it's certainly healthy to step away from your life to gain perspective and new experiences, it can be downright hard to be out of your element. At least, it is for me. 

Perhaps the Universe was supporting me in slowing down this past Friday by tripping me full force into the cement on my morning run. Bringing me to a halt and begging me to slow my roll, pay attention to what is right in front of me, take care of my body, and appreciate all that my body does for me every single second of my precious life. 

 

I think of this now. Yet in that moment. That moment where I was laying on the ground unsure if I could get up and walk with the blow to me knee - after the alarms went off in my head "you don't have health insurance," my next thought was "great, now you are going to gain weight and be out of shape right when you were gearing up to do the exact opposite." Ha! 

There are people all over the world - this very minute - who are grieving the recent loss of a loved one, mourning a terrible breakup and heartache, dealing with paralysis or missing body parts, stricken with incurable disease and illness - and there I laid, worrying about how I was going to stay fit when I am temporarily unable to use my leg. 

"How very vain," I thought to myself. "How ego driven are you to not appreciate this body you have and all that it does for you?"

When I returned back to NYC from Colorado, I felt as though I had just traveled overseas. My body was tired. My mind off balance. My thoughts scattered. My energy anxious. Even so, I  was upset that in three weeks of travel I was thrown out of my workout routine and pissed that I allowed myself to get off track - I told myself that I needed to work extra hard to get back to 'my norm.'

All the while during my travel, I was eating some delicious food that I never would have had otherwise, spent time with my wonderful family that - on any given day - I miss so much it hurts, breathed in the fresh mountain air, snowshoed on a mesa in the San Juans, and commenced an extraordinary bond with a beautiful... beautiful man that I can now call "my boyfriend" (insert giddy face here). 

Left to right: Me, my beautiful sister, and her husband at Linger in Denver. 

Yet during those days that were so rare and unique - I was so consumed of poor thoughts about my body-image, lack of proper employment, distressed about the goals that I didn't achieve (like publishing some of my work, landing my dream job, getting certifications, taking classes), ruminating about the choices that I had made, and uneasy about my new romantic feelings for someone ... that I didn't allow myself to fully rest. I couldn't write, read, enjoy a meal, go for a leisurely walk, practice yoga, or watch a movie without my heart nearly pumping out of chest with thoughts of all of the other things that I should have been doing to 'be more productive.' 

Was I completely miserable? No, absolutely not. But, I wasn't my peaceful and calm self. I allowed my energy to become crowded with fear and worry and I didn't give myself the space and time that I needed to get my zen on. 

I told myself that the trip was going to be about relaxing, recharging, being present, and letting go. Do things like take hours in the morning to do nothing and listen to song after song,  basking in the peacefulness and safety of family, friends and the majestic surroundings that Colorado has to offer - contrasting my life in New York. I did the opposite. 

Instead of taking the time to reflect on all of that magic that my trip offered, I went full force into beating up my body. Instead of giving myself some grace, it was: Go. Go. Go. Walk. Run. Yoga. Repeat. Wake up and get 'back into your life.' Rush. Rush. Rush. And taking little time (aside from in yoga) to breathe and reflect. 

The morning of the first Friday I was back, my body was sore. I wanted to go back to sleep. My alarm rang. It was still dark. It was cold. Despite this, I put my running gear on and blasted out only to come crashing down into the cement. 

I do not see the fact that I am here on my futon elevating my leg with an ice pack on my knee as punishment - no, I see it as an opportunity. 

An opportunity to do some of things that I set out today while I was 'on vacation.'

Things like: writing, reading, dreaming, resting, reflecting, watching movies, listening to music, and just... chilling the fuck out. 

 

So this evening, I will meditate in the stillness of my yoga mat and offer up gratitude to all the people and circumstances around me that make my life a blessing. 

“I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”
- T.S. Eliot

 

I am so very grateful for all of the teachers and supporters that I have in my life. From yoga instructors near and far, fellow yogis, colleagues, friends, family, my beloved nephews, acquaintances... and now my incredibly handsome, sexy, intelligent, and inspiring boyfriend. 

Namaste, 

-AeBailey