So far this fall has been filled to the brim for me, or at least it seems that way.
Every corner of my daily life seems to be overflowing with projects and tasks, from my work here at A Sacred Journey to my dining room that I hope to have painted by Thanksgiving. The influx of these projects and tasks are good signs, no doubt—I’m cleaning our Airbnb apartment multiple times a week because we’ve been nearly fully booked since we listed our space in July; I’ve shifted to devoting two of my work days to design work as inquiries and requests continue to flow in; I’m finally able to focus money and efforts on making my part of the house (rather than the basement below us) a home now that our basement renovation is complete.
When I pause and reflect on the reasons my days seem so much more full than they used to be, I’m grateful, no doubt. Yet in the midst of it all, it’s easy for projects that once were exciting to become mundane tasks, forever adding to my to-do list. At the end of the day I often feel uprooted, desperate for someplace to land.
This was especially true recently during a two week stint of traveling. (It always seems like a good idea when it’s months away, doesn’t it?) I had a few days at home in between two trips and had plenty of things I could devote my time to, including events and appointments scheduled each night. I was also aware that if I tried to do too much, I’d end up just as depleted by the end of the week as when it began, while still being unsatisfied with the work that was done (I struggle with being a bit too ambitious for the allotted time).
Knowing this (or better yet, knowing my inner groaning for slowness, space, and rest), I began my few days at home with a yin yoga practice on the theme of “fall,” and it changed everything.
Yin yoga is a slower yoga practice in which poses are held for a long period of time. Like the yin and the yang, it offers a counter-balance to the more active or yang practices of yoga, focusing more on the breath and mindfulness of the body rather than developing strength and stamina.
“The fall season is the beginning of the yin cycle,” my instructor explained as I held the first pose, “where nature is just beginning to slow down after sharing her gifts throughout the summer.” “It’s a natural time to turn within,” she continued, and as I breathed into the places of tension in the pose—brought about, no doubt, by weeks and months of overflowing days—I found that my mind, body, and soul couldn’t agree more.
As I continued the practice, I began to wonder how I might apply the yin philosophy to the tasks that lay ahead—projects and appointments that couldn’t be postponed, but could no doubt use a little infusion of love. I began to wonder what it would be like to essentially “hold the pose,” staying present to the task, noticing the places of tension and breathing into them like you would when practicing yin yoga instead of resisting (and resenting) the task completely.
Just the thought of this provided me with a sense of release and relief, allowing me to breath life back into the projects and tasks that felt depleting. As I held the final pose, I knew I had stumbled upon my most-needed practice in my current season.
Since that day over a week ago my schedule hasn’t changed—new projects still mingle with looming deadlines, and I will, in fact, be painting the dining room this weekend (though if I’m honest with myself, it will take a bit more time than that). What has changed, however, is the way I approach the tasks and projects that fill my days. There is still tension, certainly. It’s just a part of this season. And there still is resistance. But instead of giving into that resistance and surrendering to a sense of overwhelm, I’m learning to hold the pose, moving slowly and gently, remaining present to the task, and breathing life into the places where I need it most.
Which elements of your daily life could use a little yin infusion?