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How to know if you should meditate or space out in the face of an all-around crappy day (or month)

September 5, 2013

There a lot of pressure to meditate once you’re inducted into the yoga world. Ok, maybe it’s just me and maybe it’s all self-imposed. Ironically it stresses me out. Yes, I am a yoga teacher. No, I don’t meditate everyday. Do I practice mindfulness? At this point after living yoga for so long it’s my default mode. I can’t seem to turn off my mindfulness, even when I’d like to.

meditationcardSometimes I think yoga is a curse because it makes you hyper aware of a) your body b) your emotions and c) your thoughts. They say “ignorance is  bliss” and they couldn’t be more right, especially when what you’re ignorant of is painful or uncomfortable. If my body aches, my emotions are negative and my thoughts are bringing me down, then why in the world would I want to lean into them and feel them more when I meditate? But ignorance is for ignoramuses, so when it comes to having really uncomfortable and painful feelings: when are you supposed to lean in to them, and when it is ok to space out?

I bring this up because this has been a crap-tastic year for me personally. It’s been painful, uncomfortable, infuriating and just downright depressing. Not every minute obviously but this one’s going down in the history books as one of the worst. Thank goodness for my amazing “team” of friends, family, students, teachers, clients and pros who support me and keep me going.

So what did I find myself doing? Totally spacing out. In the form of leaning into a completely mind-consuming hobby…jewelry making. Check it out. (Then scroll down to read the actual point.)

I’ve made so much that I’ve been forced to (ok not at gunpoint or anything) sell some of it. Thankfully Circle Yoga Cooperative, where I teach is having a community event with local artists and I’ve got a table. Come on by!  Circle Yoga Arts Market Saturday September 7th, 1-4pm.  Or order online (coming soon!) –  store will be open only for maybe a month (because seriously this has to end somewhere).

Whenever I make jewelry, I totally space out and focus on getting that tiny bead onto the tiny string and wrapping it just so perfectly to create something beautiful. My mind gets a very real break from all the fretting about “god-awful-2013.”

Anyway, back to the question.

Was it a mindful choice to space out? Not really. I became engrossed very quickly as I often do with creative projects. But when I did have time to reflect on how many hours I was spending “spacing out,” I figured out that, this was ok. It was ok to space out and get a break from all the stress. In fact, it might have even saved me a bit from going totally postal.

So here’s the answer to the question: when are you supposed to lean in to your feelings, and when it is ok to space out?

Spacing out needs to happen when you really need to cut yourself a break and literally take a vacation from the stress of an all-around-crappy-day (or year). But can you make that choice mindfully? Yes you can, because you also should choose to lean into your feelings when it’s appropriate, with your friends and family or your therapist or your yoga teacher or whoever it is you have in your life that makes you feel safe and comfortable and give you a shoulder to cry on for as long as you need it.

So there you have it. Do yoga and meditate when you feel safe and know it’ll make you feel much better. And space out when you really just need a little break from it all.

One Comment leave one →
  1. September 20, 2013 4:50 pm

    I’m so sorry to hear of your crap-tastic year! One thing to look forward to: that yoga session you have planned at my work for next week! There are 31 people signed up as of yesterday when I checked!

    I zone out by painting, and sometimes by knitting, but knitting just sort of stresses me out.

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