Do you ever feel like you are constantly racing time? Not enough hours in the day to get everything that needs to be done, done? And then even if you get those things done, where do you fit in ‘Me’ time? Oh wait, and in there you have to make yourself healthy, gourmet meals, find time to be with the kids and your partner, don’t forget the dog!
With so many demands on our time how do we cope? Can we have it all without being exhausted? Do we work less? Do we make our children give up their outside school activities? Do we book time with our partner for dates? How can we manage time? Is time something that can be managed?
About 4 years ago I raised the white flag to ‘time’. I made the decision to let go of trying to beat time. After all I wasn’t saving or making time. I wanted to let go of trying to fit everything in in my day, my week, my year. Now this didn’t mean letting go of responsibility, poking my tongue out at the world and living it up on the beach. As inviting as that sounds, that was not the lifestyle for me. So how could I let go of time without letting go of responsibility?
I spent the next few months observing how I try to race time throughout my day, and then experimenting with letting go of routine and allowing events in my day to flow. Now somethings I had to keep to a schedule, like getting to work on time, getting my daughter to school on time, and getting to appointments, but all the other things I had to get done in the day did not need a strict time line.
What I observed was how much I tried to cram into every moment of my day and then the short cuts I would take to make that work. Here is what I discovered:
Going to the toilet during the day seemed such a time waster. So I would choose the clothes I wore for the day based on how quickly I could take them off when I needed to go the toilet during my work day. No fussy clothes or stockings for me! I would bear the cold to save me time. I would also drink less water during the day which meant less times I needed to go to the toilet = more time saving! I’m pretty sure when I did go to the toilet I had flushed before I had even finished to save time.
Getting ready – I would be planning and preparing for my day in my head the entire time I was getting ready for my day - in the shower….wait have I shampooed my hair?...putting on my makeup…minimal makeup, because who has time for more than a bit of foundation and mascara. But not only was I thinking through what had to be done in my day, I was thinking about what my daughter and partner had on in their day!
Multi-tasking – checking my email, Facebook, Instagram, and twitter while waiting for my shower to warm up, kettle to boil, train to come. Making phone calls while driving or making dinner.
Meals were often on the fly, and not always the best choices. I also noticed I craved sugary foods to deal with my exhaustion.
I dubbed myself the ‘Queen of Racing Time’
There was this constant rushing in everything I did – I dubbed myself the ‘Queen of Racing Time’. I noticed how I would constantly drop things, run into furniture or door ways, and forgot things. I would use up every minute before I had to leave the house and then drive like a mad woman to get places – trying to beat the next red light, and finding the quickest route through the back streets. I would get frustrated with others for being slow and holding me up. I would get frustrated with my daughter (who had a beautiful flow to her day) for being ‘slow’ and holding me up.
I was talking to a friend about how I was feeling and she asked if I had tried Yoga of Stillness. I had attended Hatha Yoga classes for over 5 years as a way to relax. I was the one in class that sat on a bolster - as even after 5years, I could not sit with my legs crossed - and couldn’t hold poses for more than a minute. The only part I found relaxing was the ‘Shavasana’ at the end of the class. But the relaxation did not extend beyond me getting up off the mat. So I decided to give Yoga of Stillness a go.
I set myself up for my first session with my paper thin yoga mat in the middle of the room. As the session progressed I kept thinking that perhaps I was misunderstanding the instructions....was I really just meant to move from sitting to laying, and was I allowed to support my leg with my hands into the bent position? Surely I had to lift it there unaided and hold my foot up off the floor. I kept opening one eye to see what others in the group were doing and make sure I was doing it right. Never one to give up, as the program continued I noticed I could feel differences in my body by comparing how I felt coming into the class to how I felt at the end of the class. What I felt when in to the class was how anxious I was. A rushing sensation in my body. I felt how tired I was – in one of the classes I literally fell asleep sitting up! - I felt how uncomfortable it was on my lower back, and my body in general, laying on that thin mat on the floor.
As the six week program progressed, I started to look at how I could support my body more during the class. I bought myself a thicker mat, I used two pillows – one for under my head and one for under my knees, I wore socks to keep my feet warm, and, as it was winter, I allowed myself to have the heater on for the class. Throughout the weeks that followed I noticed how present I was at times during my day….not all day, but parts of it. Like when I was showering. I could feel how my mind was starting to stay with what I was doing…that I not only remembered shampooing my hair, but I enjoyed shampooing my hair. This presence started to creep in more and more, and what surprised me was how magnified it felt when I rushed or pressured myself to get things done. At first I couldn’t stop the rushing and at the end of the day I would feel tired and achy and it was not until this point that I was aware of how I had been with my body during the day.
As my Yoga of Stillness journey continued with further programs, and again taking the time to observe how I was during my day, over a 6 month period I noticed amazing changes:
I was allowing my day to flow. For example, when I woke in the morning, instead of jumping out of bed and leaping into my day, I would take a moment to feel my body. What was needed first – a shower or breakfast? It was becoming the norm that I was not waking with a list in my head of what I wanted to get done in the day.
I dropped the multi-tasking….and stopped dropping things!
My clothing and food choices were more about how I felt rather than functionality.
The makeup in my draw that was there for those special occasions was now being used every day.
Toilet breaks were no longer an inconvenience, now a beautiful moment to stop and bring myself back to me.
What I did next in my day was based on what presented/what was needed in that moment, and what didn’t get done in my day was addressed when it was needed.
I began to be aware of how I was with my body during the day. I would stop and remind myself of those three words my Yoga of Stillness practitioner used at the start of each session – “connect to you”.
Today, Yoga of Stillness is part of every moment of my day - without perfection - as I check in with my body with everything I do – the way I am standing, the way I am walking, the way I am sitting. The more I let go of time and was more present in my day, the less I felt those awful feelings of – “OMG, what time is it? I’m not going to get everything done!”