Spring is officially here and with it comes powerful opportunities for change. I’m doing a deep cleaning from the inside out. To kick things off I decided to return to my habit of rising early. After hearing the morning prayers from the nearby mosque, I stretch length-wise, roll myself out of bed into the dawn. I start by greeting the sun.
Inhale, sweep the arms up above my head.
Exhale, draw the belly back, tighten the quads, soften the knees slightly and fold forward.
Inhale, halfway lift.
Exhale, step back and chaturanga
Inhale, up dog.
Exhale down dog.
Breathe in. Breath out.
Exhale it all out.
Six rounds of sun salutations followed by some yin yoga has me feeling absolutely euphoric! I feel as if I can do anything at these moments. Yoga. Check. Meditation. Check. Prayer. Check. Coffee. Double check! Time to get at it. As I settle into my chair, I open my Internet browser and it spins, diligently attempting to connect me with the outside world. I walk from the table to check the modem. Hit the re-set button and return to my seat.
I walk from the table to check the modem. Hit the re-set button and return to my seat.
You get the picture! The lights are on but nobody’s home. At .45 mbps the Internet where I live is similar to the dial up speeds of yesteryear. The Internet in Addis Ababa occupies the same empty space in conversations as the weather in London. I lived in London for three years and the weather is as good as it is predictable. The bus driver’s smile at you depends on the sun! The weather is a constant topic of conversation. In Addis, the invariably poor Internet is always on the lips of expats. If you have nothing else to speak about you can always talk about the Internet. Everyone has the same story on different days of the week. The struggle is real!
Flashing lights, lights
Flashing lights, lights
She don’t believe in shootin’ stars
But she believe in shoes and cars
What Kanye said. (Back when he was still Kanye). Bad Internet, a cranky child, a boss that refuses to vibe higher — all can infiltrate your routine like an enemy soldier. The interruption is hardly worse than the habitual response — the click, double click, hard double click. The reaction often sends us into a downward spiral of stimuli-reaction without breath or thought. Reaction is often jammed up with unconscious feelings, negative thought patterns, and harmful emotions. To get out of this spiral it is helpful to create margin in our lives.
Margin is the space between our load and our limits. Margin is the gap between rest and exhaustion, the space between breathing freely and suffocating. Margin is the space that allows for proactive responses to our daily challenges instead of reactive responses that end with the same result.
When the Internet ceases to work, I now shut the laptop and work on a task that doesn’t require Internet. Or I get in the car and drive to a place where there is Internet. I have stopped the viscous cycle of reacting through the practice of aparigraha–the last of the five yamas of Patanjali’s Eight Limbs of Yoga. It often translates to ‘non-greed’, ‘non-possessiveness’, and ‘non-attachment.’ Creating margin in your life means letting something go. Instead of filling your diary 110%, it might mean filling only 80% of your time. It might mean having five tasks on your to-do list rather than 10. (Y’all know I love to-do lists)! … It’s up to you to figure out where you need more margin in your life. I’m guessing that you recognize exactly where it’s needed – this part won’t take much effort.
What I love about yoga is the potential for it to become integral to this process. Yoga is a dance between control and surrender-between pushing and letting go and when to let go becomes part of the creative process, part of the open-ended exploration of your being.
Let’s kick start Spring by letting go to create margins and more freedom for ourselves! Often flowing through a practice creates the margin that I need to immediately see the solution to a conflict or worrisome situation. I invite you to create margins in your life by taking just 5 minutes in the morning to do a few rounds of sun salutations with me. I have an easy tutorial below.
Have more time? Flow with me for 18 minutes at the start of your day. Margins must be created and cultivated. Create the margins for yourself and soak in ease and accomplish hard things with softness.
We got this!
See you in here, out there, or both!
PS. In case you missed my previous monthly letters you can find a version below.
April Monthly Letter
March Monthly Letter