One of the reasons I love the early morning practice so much is the quiet. The still, silent space for reflection. It’s not like my house is situated on I-40, but as the sun climbs ever higher, the volume of life increases in equal measure. More cars on the road and more humans on the sidewalk. Kids playing, sirens, construction– all of the sounds of life. The quiet is sacred, precious, short-lived. Even as I write this, part of me wants to go upstairs and turn off the dryer, because the tumble-tumble-tumble is adding more noise to my already chatty brain. And what I really want to hear is the birds in my backyard. The windchimes on my front porch. The rise and fall of my breath.
In a recent conversation with a student, I could relate so well to the struggle she shared. Like me, she has been on a mission to create a more manageable schedule. She, too, has been looking for a way to do less with more impact rather than do more to the point of depletion. As she spoke, I could hear myself. “I’ve created some space in my schedule, which is great, but almost as soon as it’s made, I fill it up.” Once we put something- even what we most love- into the hole, it’s no longer unscheduled time. Exactly.
One of my favorite sayings from my teacher which I often quote is “there is nothing better than space with nothing in it.” Every time he says this, all of my cells shout “yes!!” and yet whenever the doing part of me sees even a few unscheduled minutes, it immediately jams them up. Ultimately this is just another iteration of my ongoing inner (and outer) dialogue about creating a schedule and a life that is sustainable. Striving for a balanced life: work that is meaningful, of service, fulfilling; with time and energy for play, loved ones, creating, and of course the necessary business of daily life.
But I had a light bulb moment when I recognized that I’ve been missing something big. Balance isn’t found just between those two poles of work and play. It seems to always ends up like a see-saw or ping-pong battle back and forth, ever searching for the near-impossible moment held in the middle. What if that balance continuum needs a third leg (think tripod) to actually work? What if we added the space for reflection? Work. Play. And time for nothing at all.
Maybe that open time becomes an extra practice, or staring out the window, or making a nourishing pot of soup. Perhaps it’s a nidra or writing or lying on the floor with the P dog and scratching her ears. But it’s completely unplanned, intentionally parsed out for the nothing—the space for reflection. It’s not to do the errands or the cooking or the practice. It is an appointment just to be. And if some action arises from the beingness (not the discomfort of stillness) then fine. But this third leg, I think it’s the missing part of the equation. All this time I have been trying to create two balanced sides. I forgot everything I was ever taught about tripod: the third element is what creates a balance that has stability and integrity over time. Revelation. Not exactly earth shattering, but illuminating all the same.
While we are considering time and space, well, this month marks 12 years on N. West Street. And that is certainly something upon which to pause and reflect. I haven’t really done so yet, but I will: what has been created, grown, learned. The lessons, connections, the thousands of classes and tens of thousands of students. The service, sharing, laughter, tears. Happy Birthday, blue. I send that wish to a much a younger version of myself. And to my current day self. To all of our beloved, brilliant, generous and loving teachers and staff. And it is most certainly and most of all to you, as without you there would be no blue at all.
Please join us on 2/12 for a day of classes by donation- and if you can’t, I hope you’ll still drop a check into the jar on the front desk in the week before to support Carroll’s Kitchen. The opportunities for a fresh start that our friends at Carroll’s Kitchen create is worthy of our support.
Thanks, everyone. And lots of love. So much.