by Steph Creaturo
There’s lots of toxicity in the world these days. What we eat. What we feed our kids. What we drink our water out of. From toothpaste to faucets, it seems like it’s all under scrutiny.
But what we put into our bodies doesn’t hold a candle to the toxicity that comes out of our mouths — especially in when it manifests in the word ‘should’. ‘Should’ is the energetic equivalent to drinking a Big Gulp full of fake sugar and syrup and coloring and all that other stuff that feels good in the moment, but like absolute crap afterwards. And that sort of crap isn’t just a fleeting feeling, it the kind that breeds garbage at the roots of our being.
Sure, it may feel good (in the moment) to proclaim “I should do more yoga.” Who is going to argue with that statement? Your intentions, I bet, are in the right place. But, let me ask you – if you don’t follow through, how do you really feel? Like crap. It the crash after the sugar rush, and then you need more to pick you back up again – and thus, the vicious cycle, like that we create with caffeine and sugar and whatever else of our choosing – emerges.
So, as we become more obsessed with what goes into our mouths, why aren’t we equally obsessed with what comes out of them?
Should is a verb and one of its meanings is must; duty. Now, that’s super-interesting in the context of a yoga practice – my mind jumps to the lines in the great spiritual text, the Bhagavad Gita (3.35) about doing one duty’s well, instead of doing another’s: “It is better to do your own duty badly, than to perfectly do another’s.” Most of us don’t equate ‘should’ with ‘duty’. We see it more of an energetic finger-wagging, a nag, something to tick off of our list? Should you practice? Sure, but now let me get literal and ask you – are you saying it is your duty to practice?
Duty is an interesting concept in modern times — for example, is it your duty to feed yourself or your kids good food? How do you define good – and is it the same way as your spouse? You see where I’m going with this. Duty is a really personal line in the sand – one that’s comprised of a highly complex matrix of wiring, wants, lemmings, beliefs, and callings. When ‘should’ is placed in the context of ‘duty’, its usage makes more sense. It carries the kind of gravity that the language of duty calls for: that of chosen, and subsequently accepted, obligation.
When we strip “should” from its true meaning, “should” gets loaded with garbage, like that turquoise flavored Big Gulp.
My challenge to all of us is to shift our relationship to ‘should.’ Should you do yoga? Not when you put it that way. In that context, there’s no joy in should.
Instead of longing for the time and space to do yoga, look at why you do yoga. Like when we change our eating habits — for that change to really stick, we have to look at why we’re choosing the Big Gulp over water. Figure out if you want to practice. How about need to practice? Keeping the practice’s true meaning relevant to your life may continue to make – and keep – it a priority in the land that lives beyond the should’s. Sure, there will be periods of strife and disintegration. Just like times when we’ll eat a cupcake, drink one too many glasses of wine, or not stretch after a run.
Do we know better? Yep.
Next time we disconnect from what has meaning to us, instead of ‘should’-ing ourselves to death, let’s spend the energy on figuring out why the disconnect happened instead. Yep, that’s hard to do. In the long term, though, it’s a more integrated, heartfelt, and generally productive way to go.
Perhaps the ethos of should is summed up best by not the Bhagavad Gita, but that other great spiritual text, Where the Sidewalk Ends, by Shel Silverstein:
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”