Maybe it’s because I tend to be surrounded by ambitious and life-loving people, but when I ask someone how they’re doing, if the conversation moves beyond the standardized “fine” reply, generally the next answer is something like – “busy, busy…”
I don’t know anyone who isn’t having this experience. Literally EVERYONE I talk to is busy. We all feel like there’s not enough time. We’re all busy in our lives, busy in our heads, busy in our bodies. That simply seems to be the deal doesn’t it?
Life – we just can’t seem to find the time or to get enough of it.
The busyness of our days has a busying effect on our hearts, minds, and bodies. Inside we feel compressed, tied down, restricted by time’s constraints. We’re busy moving through the world and all the constant negotiation that goes with the territory. We’re all more than a little overwhelmed.
The practices of yoga offer effective tools for managing stress. Practices like asana (yoga poses), pranayama (breathing), meditation, as well as body awareness tools and relaxation techniques are all helpful for working out the tensions of our inner landscape, reducing stress and increasing a sense of spaciousness. In unraveling some of the physical, emotional, and psychological barriers within, the compression we feel can be dramatically diminished.
But as effective as yoga can be for weary souls who seek soothing, practice is really only half of the equation. Additionally and unfortunately, yoga and it’s counterparts can also add stress by extending an individual’s already growing and daunting “to-do” list because suddenly, in addition to an 8 hour work day, maintaining the house, caring for the kids, shopping, bills, and everything else, we have to take an hour and a half to go to a yoga class, 30 minutes to meditate, 30 minutes of elaborate self-care practices…. What’s left to deal with is the actual root of the problem. It remains that there isn’t enough time to get it all done.
Last weekend, I got married to the love of my life. It was a festival wedding in the forest with 250 people celebrating our life and love. On top of all the set up and logistics (invites, décor, scheduling…), our weekend wedding included a four-directions ceremony, midnight jam session, open bar, a wedding ceremony with live music, a prayer ceremony, dinner, cake, a 30-child sleepover, live rock concert, pole dancers, silk dancers, fire dancers, dance party until 4am, and slumber party for all 250 guests. The event was special to say the least. It was also a little more than overwhelming.
To navigate the intensity of the event, I called on the practices of yoga to stay inwardly calm, spacious, and open to the experience. It was immensely helpful as was my community. I might even say that if the 10 years I’ve put into building a strong practice were all for making that one weekend experience possible, it would have been worth it. But there was something else which proved equally helpful. Something I’ve heard little talk of in yoga culture.
Priority Practice –
Realizing I was not going to manage everything that was happening during the weekend, I sat down and got clear about how I wanted to spend my time and where I wanted to place my awareness. I got sober with the fact that I wasn’t going to be able to do it all and acknowledged that, to me, the most important thing was being with others, especially my wife! My second priority was speaking my vows with heart. My third was the safety of the guests. My fourth was letting loose and having a great time. And so on…
Knowing this, I made a list of everything that needed to happen leading up to and during the wedding. Accepting that I wasn’t going to finish everything on that list, I organized it with my highest priorities at the top and worked always with my priorities aligned. I stayed focused on what mattered most and let the things that weren’t as important take a back seat.
I didn’t get it all done, but during and after the weekend, remarkably, I wasn’t overwhelmed by everything I couldn’t do, but relieved that I never lost sight of what was truly important. I never left the side of my new wife and I connected eye-to-eye & heart to heart with each individual who crossed my path. I spoke my vows with the attention and feeling I’d wanted to bring, everyone was safe and sound, and I enjoyed what was arguably the greatest party I’ve ever experienced. I felt an extreme sense of contentment knowing I was successful in staying aligned with my highest purpose.
From “I-do’s” to “to-do’s” –
After the wedding, like coming home from a yoga retreat, the paperwork and laundry have piled up, the kid’s seem needier, the fridge could use stocking and life is more demanding than ever. All the self-soothing practices in the world aren’t going to buy me more time.
We’ve all got a “to-do” list. If you don’t have one, make yours today. Then organize it based on your priorities. Work always from the top down and you’ll ensure the things that don’t receive your time and attention are of least significance to you.
This practice will prove especially beneficial with the shorter days and holidays ahead. It is probably the simplest yet most effective way to “align with the highest” that I know. It was born from life experience and it’s been tested and proven by the same means. Therefore, I believe it to be sound. I’m sure I will move out of alignment as time flies by relentlessly the way it does. I’m sure I’ll forget my priorities. Hopefully someone, maybe one of you, will remind me. But knowing this will inevitably occur, I’m making a vow to consistently revise and return to my priorities. To keeping them organized and always giving my time and attention first to that which is highest (on my list).
So, I wanted to share it with you. Thank you for taking the time to read. I hope it’s of some benefit to you in your busy life.
Todd A. Vogt