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How You Do Anything is How You Do Everything

Photo credit: Dano via / CC BY

I was driving to the grocery store with my husband when a car cut us off and got in front of us. That same car preceded us, so s-l-o-w-l-y, the whole way to our destination. The driver seemed to purposely make us miss green lights so the trip took a ridiculously long time and after a while my husband said "I can tell by the way that person drives that he or she is a jerk.” And sure enough, when we finally got to the store parking lot, the same dang car took the last good parking space, relegating us to the spaces outer Mongolia!

I happened to notice who was driving the car that cut us off, and when we went to get a shopping cart, who is there taking their time and causing a commotion? You guessed it! In fact, during our whole shopping excursion, this same family was ahead of us in every aisle, allowing their children to lay down in front of our cart, blocking the refrigerator case where we needed to get eggs, demanding that we back up because they forgot something behind them, etc.

They were in front of us in the checkout line, of course, and they took so long to get out to their car and load it up, that they pulled out in front of us as we were finally on our way home. They managed to make us wait while they took forever to back out and pull forward. And by that time, I had to agree, you could tell everything about that family by the way they drove.

I find that, with a few exceptions of course, yoga students are generally very mindful and conscientious people. They share their props freely. They move their mats over to make room for students entering the classroom. I have one class where they save a front row spot for a 92-year-old, and they kind of fight over who gets the right to stand next to her in case she needs steadying or assistance getting up & down from the floor. Chances are, these are not the people who would cut you off in traffic.

I am grateful to my practice for making me slow down, for making me more thoughtful about where I’m placing my feet & my hands, and whether or not it’s appropriate for me to come into a certain pose on a given day. I like noticing the relationship between my breath and my thoughts. And I love seeing hearing the discussions that start between students before class. Recipes are shared. Doctors, hair stylists and favorite restaurants are referred. The way they do this is representative of the way they probably do everything.

When I put almond butter on my toast, I spread it all the way to the edges on all four sides. Because if I get a bite without any almond butter on it, it feels like a punishment. And with this confession, you now know almost everything about me. I’m meticulous. I spend way too much time on the details. I’m somewhat methodical. I’m a little obsessive-compulsive. And I tend to overdo things. Sometimes to the point of smothering (good thing toast doesn’t breathe!).

And so back to the mat I go. Overemphasis on alignment makes me even more OCD. It’s not calming or soothing. I crave balance from my perfectionistic tendencies! So, I apply a little alignment and then ask myself “Can I give this pose space, where I’m not correcting or adjusting, but just taking the time to feel? Can I refrain from doing Garudasana arms on both sides because it aggravates my shoulder, or will I give in to the notion that I “should” be able to do it.”

And this tells you another truth about me. I’m a firm believer in the power of persistence. That’s what a yoga practice is. You show up. You put in the effort. You make the best of each day. You do it both on and off your mat.

I invite you to notice the way you do something and see if there’s a metaphor in it for how you approach your life. How do you fold your laundry or brush your teeth? Does it say everything about you? I would love to hear what you think, so comment here!

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