BEING PRESENT . . . with Legos
by Lisa Stowe
On a recent Sunday afternoon, Daniel had just left for baseball practice with my hubby, and Elliot was napping. I had some time to myself so I rolled out my mat to practice.
Moments later, I’m in thread the needle, opening up my shoulders, reminding myself to stay present and not focus on the fact that I only have 1.5 hours to practice, change, and drop off Elliot with his brother and dad before I go see “The Hunger Games”. That is when I spy a bright white Lego on the floor underneath an armchair. It dwells in shiny contrast to the olive green rug, daring me to halt my practice and pick it up. What was that about being present? About staying on my mat?
In her dharma talks, Steph often calls on us to realize that the hard part is done – we have rolled out our mat. Having carved out the time and space to practice, everything else in our life can wait: work, email, and chores. Our only assignment while we practice is to focus on the pose at hand, breathing in and breathing out. In a phrase – be present. There may be rain pelting the windows or unanswered emails loitering in our inbox, but our mat is our universe and our center of focus.
As an urban yogi, I’ve cultivated the ability to practice despite distractions. The city soundtrack, thunderstorms, and Court Street traffic don’t intrude on my mat. I know that I can’t control them, so I let them go. But what about things I can control?
In contrast to weather and traffic patterns, there is quite a bit I can do about the Lego – I can interrupt my practice to retrieve it, and put it back in the storage bin. It is precisely this ability to react to the Lego that makes it difficult to remain present when faced with the plastic block – it would take less than one minute to pick up the Lego and put it away, so why not? If I get right back into my pose after I’ve cleaned up underneath the chair, what is the big deal?
The big deal is that by stepping off my mat and reacting to a distraction, I’m taking time away from my practice, dedicating it to something that is not pressing. The Lego will wait for me – just like unanswered emails and an un-emptied dishwasher. By not being present, I am only detracting from myself, from my time, from my practice.
In the end, the Lego remained under the chair, lingering until the next day.
Lisa Stowe is a yogi, economist and mom who is as graceful with her arm balances as she is analyzing financial markets and juggling two young children. THE BALANCE SHEET will offer her perspective on integrating and benefiting from a consistent yoga practice amidst the hectic reality of family, work, and home.