Since I started teaching a Sunday 12:30pm class, my Saturday nights are pretty much shot. Honestly, I’m not that upset to see them go. Instead of staying out late spending money with the rest of the weekend warriors, most weekends find me at home, working on music or enjoying time with my partner. If I don’t have plans on Friday night, chances are pretty good I’ll fall asleep around midnight naturally. Which means that I go to bed and wake up at more or less the same time every day. Seven days a week.
This is new for me. I used to be one of those people who stayed up until 3am on weeknights and had a job that started later in the morning that I was always late to anyway. I used to pride myself on how little sleep I could get and still be functional. I knew my constantly “on” lifestyle was not healthy, but I kept trying to squeeze every second out of 24 hours until…until I got sick and really really tired, started noticing changes in my mood, how focused I was at work, and my appearance.
Re-discovering my body’s natural rhythm has been humbling. It’s tempting to make jokes about “getting old” but when I look deeper, it’s really about “getting honest.” I’m at a phase in my life where my yoga practice and healthy relationships are more important to me than being out on the scene. Getting a good night’s rest has become more important than staying up late.
I think we are all somewhat out of our natural rhythms. The 24-7 lifestyle is pushed by the media and made possible by all manner of gadgets which predictably need updating every 6 months to make our 24-7 lifestyle even more 24-7!
Slowing down sometimes seems revolutionary. It most certainly will require a revision of priorities. But if you give yourself time to let your body and higher intelligence tell you what needs to happen, it will. You don’t have to “figure it out” overnight or even next week. Maybe just do a little less.
Instead of focusing so much on the fruits of our action, we can focus on the quality of our action. The focus becomes how we do something rather than why. As I become more attuned to the natural rhythms of my body, I discover that for years, decades even, I have controlled my body’s rhythms, rather than letting my body dictate what my rhythm should be. In the extreme, this is recipe for stress, disease, burn-out.
Letting go of achievement and wanting and tuning in to the quality driving my actions has not been the easiest transition for me. At first I wasn’t even aware that I was pushing so hard. I believe it has been difficult due to how much I had accepted society’s memes about “work hard and succeed” or that to “make anything” of myself, I would have to put in Herculean effort because “successful people aren’t lazy.”
I am slowly accepting that I go to bed early now, even on weekends, because my body just wants it that way. I no longer equate a slower pace of life with being “lazy.” I find that I am more aware of everything when I am moving more slowly. Awareness brings clarity, which can be translated into precision, in asana practice, in speech, in thinking.
Give up pushing and receive awareness. Not a bad trade-off. Even if it means occasionally feeling like an old fuddy-duddy.