The work will find you.
The ritual reveals itself.
When the student is ready, the teacher appears.
Summer is the time of year when I focus most acutely on my own learning. Not just the substance or content I’m absorbing, but the process of learning itself. I intentionally relax my daily rituals so that new ones can find their way in. I leave wider spaces in my calendar for (summer fun with my family, first) the divine magic of learning something that I haven’t even conceived I even need to learn about.
Amidst all of that is learning how to continue on my own journeys while caring for my family and creating conditions that inspire my daughter to be a life-long learner. It’s not all roses & sausages, let me tell you. There have been plenty of melt-downs, time-outs and do-overs (for both of us). And these are the spaces where the most learning happens: when things don’t look *perfect*.
Something that I’ve been actively engaging with this summer is vairagya, or non-attachment.* Last summer, I was so dependent on my 5am meditation ritual that if it didn’t happen at the appropriate time, I went a little…berserk. Nervous. Anxious. Unsettled in my body. A definite sensation of dis-ease in my person. Decidedly out of the state of yoga.** This summer, I wanted to play with that a bit, to see if I could continue to nourish the rhythm of practice without becoming overly attached or dependent on the form.
This was a little scary.
But also really fascinating, since it revealed some kind of fun ego-identification (But I wake up at 5. But I am the kind of person who wakes up at 5 to practice. So funny!). And awesome, because practice works. Even when it reveals something less-than-perfect or slightly embarrassing, the capacity for paying attention, for actually feeling what anxiety, embarrassment, non-yoga feels like in the body is pretty amazing. So, to be honest, I didn’t get too worked up about actually noticing the attachment to practice.
This summer I slept in. Since July, I stopped setting an alarm. I woke up when I did, and if it was before 6am (which it usually was in the beginning, because my body was so used to getting up at 5), I lingered in bed until at least 6. Then I practiced outside in my pajamas, usually with my daughter climbing all over me. I am becoming better at seeing space where it appears there is none. Mothering a small child while supporting even a shred of sanity requires this, I think, but it is taking me as long as it takes to really know this in my bones.
And I started writing again. Early morning (but not so early, ha ha) poems and essays started showing up in inky piles. I am letting them decide whether to coalesce around a theme in their own time. For now, they are a writing practice. They would not have come if I had scheduled them or required them to conform to a specific mold, probably. So again I am grateful for the boon that has allowed me to open to the things I didn’t even know I wanted to learn. Grace, I think we can agree is what that is. And it’s only possible when we let go a little bit, somewhere. Everywhere.
Tell me about what learning is happening for you these days.
* Yoga Sutra 1.12: abhyasa-vairagyabhyam-tat-nirodhah // stillness results from practice without attachment to the results.
** Yoga Sutra 1.2: yogash-citta-vritti-nirodhah// yoga is ceasing to identify with the fluctuations of mind, or yoga is seeing clearly what is actually happening.
P.S. the photo was taken 4 summers ago, when Oona & I first started our summer-learning together.