About a year ago I quit wearing my Garmin (FitBit/Apple watch/Letsfit, whatever your poison :) It occurred to me that I exercised only to achieve an arbitrary goal instead of for the enjoyment it brought me. For the feeling of warmth, strength and power I felt. I never walked simply to enjoy the walk, the flowers, the blue sky. I never stopped to feel my feet on the ground, the breeze on my skin or the sunlight on my face.
It reminds me of a book I’m reading by Thich Nhat Hanh. He talks about doing things just to do them, not to achieve a goal. He says that everything you need you already possess. I read that and thought, “Really? Maybe YOU possess everything you need but not me.” LOL!
That is the difference between our Western way of thinking and more Eastern philosophy though. (I’m not saying one is right and one is wrong, just enjoying the difference). In his book Peace Is Every Step, Hanh goes on to say that when we are happy, we don’t know it because we don’t stop to notice it, to feel it. Sounds a lot like our Western philosophy of “stop and smell the roses.”
Last night my family and I sat and peered up at the moon, searched for the stars. Did our own smelling of the roses.
A great thing yet why stop when we enjoy going so much? There is a sense of pride in accomplishment and doesn’t that come from pushing and achieving? From getting the gold star? From setting goals and reaching for the highest heights? It is all great but what if we never stop to ENJOY all we have achieved?
I love the example Hahn gives to help me understand this concept. “When we have a toothache, we know that not having a toothache is a wonderful thing. But when we do not have a toothache, we are still not happy. Having a non-toothache is a wonderful thing.” Huh, having a non-toothache is a wonderful thing!!
Some may think of exercise as a big toothache but that might be because there is always a goal attached. It might be because we never really enjoy the movement. We just put “exercise” on our to do list. We make it feel like a chore! Like something we HAVE to do versus something we want to do. But what if exercise become a non-toothache?
These concepts are fundamental to yoga. In our practice, pausing is just as important as doing. The ancient yogis seemed to understand that on a sky high level. Engrained in the practice is the fundamental concept of mindfulness. Built in to the practice are moments of noticing (and enjoying) each and every movement, moments where we get to “stop and smell the roses,” moments of clarity, moments where we can peer up at the sky and feel our connection to something bigger.
In yoga and mindfulness we may begin to see that we already have the happiness we are searching for. We still have goals and take care of ourselves but the reasons for doing so may change. Instead of counting our steps, we might stop and start to really enjoy them.
Read my thoughts on yoga, teaching, parenting and everything in between. Shout out to Tiffany Stewart for help with the writing.