Monday, May 3, 2010

The Present of Spring

Spring is weird. I mean, it’s awfully pretty, with all of its new green grass taking the place of, well, brown dirt and all the blooming flowers and trees, which are achingly beautiful even though they make me sneeze. But Spring is just…weird. Somehow, it’s never owned its place on the calendar the way the other seasons have.

Winter is all about ‘The New Year’. It’s a literal new beginning, a chance to close one chapter and start another, to crystallize some hopes, even reinvent ourselves. It’s the re-set button, the new beginning, the re-boot. Fall, otherwise known as the ‘academic New Year’, is kind of the same thing -- new school year, new notebooks, maybe a new pair of jeans or two -- but it mainly affects people who go to school and the parents who help them get to the school bus every morning. And Summer? Well, Summer is its own ‘thing’. It’s that time of times when we vacate our ‘real lives’ and are…free – of homework and grades, of boots and coats and mittens and (kinda, sorta) of responsibility and everything that isn’t fun (I’m exaggerating a bit but you get the picture.)

But Spring just doesn’t completely fit.

And I think it’s Summer’s fault. Once the temperature inches above 55 degrees and we feel more sun on our upturned faces, we get drawn forward, drawn towards Summer, making Spring that season where we forever have one foot in the next thing.

Here’s a thought, though. Maybe we’re missing something that Spring has to offer by being in the next moment rather than in the present. Maybe there’s something to being MORE than half-way aware of the budding flowers and blooming trees, something to paying attention the actual moment when the thermometer tips from 55 to 65 degrees.

The practice of and philosophy behind yoga is very much about being in the present. When we are not worrying about what happened yesterday (or a minute ago) and not anticipating what will happen tomorrow (or a second from now), we are right here, right now, ‘in’ today, able to experience what is happening in the moment more fully and, if you think about it, not wasting energy on what’s already happened or hasn’t happened yet. Paying attention to our breathing keeps us in the present. So do the yoga poses, the shapes we put ourselves into on the mat during a yoga class. But being in the present is one of those things about yoga that you can really take OFF the yoga mat. It might help you enjoy (and remember) what you’re reading in that History book if you’re not thinking about everything you’ll do when your homework is finally done. It might help you feel less frazzled if you take things one at a time instead of looking at the whole list of things you have to do by school year’s end. And you might really dig what 65 degrees feels like the very moment it happens if you’re not daydreaming about the beach.

Try this: when you’re feeling overwhelmed by your schedule, when you find yourself anticipating, jumping ahead, try to catch yourself and pull yourself back to right now. Take a few deep breaths. Focus on what’s right in front of you and be there. I bet you feel better and have all kinds of energy to really enjoy what comes next when it does.

You are, as ever, beautiful, yoga girl! In the present, and beyond.