Life a Little Less Necessary

We’re entering that time of summer when many of us begin the mad-dash excitement of fitting it all in–last minute vacations, day trips, BBQ’s, stocking up on school supplies, hitting end of the summer sales. The urge to pack as much in before the transition to fall is tempting. It seems that fall signals a transition into a frantic life more necessary, back to school or a more restricted work schedule. The weekend isn’t a time to unwind and reconnect to family and friends; for many of us it is yet another restricted schedule of cleaning, errands, sports events, making up for all that is not accomplished from the previous weekdays.

Through all of this rush rush rush, our life gets separated into two columns: that which is and that which is not necessary. Unfortunately, the unnecessary column often holds such things as heading outdoors to go fishing, planting some herbs, reading a good novel, baking cookies with your children. Time for yoga and meditation become luxuries. We restrict ourselves to tasks and events that are either required or somehow deemed imperative, i.e. cleaning the house, washing laundry, meeting with clients, anything that can be justified as a “must do.”

When my husband and I were first together, I gave him a wonderful Story People print that reads, “Everything changed the day he realized there was exactly enough time for the important things in life.” The print hangs in our bedroom now, close to my yoga sanctuary, and I find myself contemplating it often. If, as Patanjali reveals, our purposes is to attain union with our true and pure self, to find Samadhi, pure bliss, then how to do we classify the “important things in life?” What is necessary in order to find pure bliss and connection to our truest, soul self? Can we reach Samadhi while denying our childhood nature, the nature that knows that it is pure joy to venture outside on a warm evening to hit balls at a batting range? The same nature that knows that entering the joyful state of contemplation can find one engaged for long stretches of time examining all of the parts on a Wooly Bear caterpillar. In yoga, it is the practices that we devote ourselves to both on and off our mat that bring us to the state of Samdhi. The asanas help to create a healthy physical body, one that is free to sit with ease in meditation. And it is meditation that not only lessens stress, increases creativity and healthy brain waves, it also is said to help us reach an understanding of the true purpose of our life. Definitely Samadhi.

If you’ve ever spent a long stretch of time engaged in regular yoga practice and meditation, I am certain that you’ll agree that these practices elicit the same joy, when undertaken with a spirit of devotion and curiosity, that a child experiences when blissed out in state of uninterrupted play. We have the ability to become that blissed out, to experience Samadhi, even if it’s fleeting. The more we practice, the longer and more frequent these periods of unexplainable joy and connection become. It is our right and our responsibility to engage in a life where we partake regularly in the unnecessary. And in so doing, we remember what is truly necessary. Topping the list of really important things in life will be yoga and meditation because, as a very dear friend once reminded me, without those practices nothing else in life works very well.