Laying on the table with needles poking out of me, my acupuncturist turns and goes, “Do you want an answer or do you want a Daniel answer?”
When summer was approaching I was planning to take off my longest stretch off from work, also called vacation time, all at once. I was excited and a bit nervous. Apparently month-long yoga intensive trainings and being ill in bed do not count as vacation times off. Part of me was a bit concerned about income but mostly confident I would have enough to see me through.
Time off was great and in the midst of all the events, planning, dates, trips, road trip, and volunteer work, I made an appointment to see my acupuncturist, whom I am sad to say I had not seen in months. The months of work/school/lifting/yoga had worn me down. If anyone wanted to see me or hang out, we needed to book that several weeks in advance. The self-care that I praised and claimed helped sustain me was something I had let slip slowly away and it was showing signs.
So there I am with my acupuncturist as he once again examines my tongue and asks me other seemingly random questions and then a series of needles dig in. I turn to him and ask, “So, am I going to make it or should I call my loved ones now.”
I had been pretty worn out. There were lots of “issues” arising that I let him know about and also that I hadn’t done enough self-care. He turned to me and asked, “Do you want an answer or do you want a Daniel answer?”
This man knows me well. “I can take it. Go for it,” I tell him.
And so he does, “You need to clean up the mess of your life. Slow down. Make more space.”
I laughed, “You sound like me teaching one of my yoga classes.”
But as I laid there with the needles in me on this table in the dark those three phrases sat with me. So much so that I had to write them down once I got the chance. They seemed simply enough but how to go about making it happen was an entirely different option. So I made a vow that from this appointment until my next, I would try to make these statements become true in my daily life.
During my July time off it became a strong indicator that “Make more space” and “slow down” meant that I would need another day of not teaching a week. That would mean then I could spend the extra time devoted to school and not feel constantly behind, or simply rest and have an unplanned day.
I would like to say that while I am not overly afraid of loss of income like I used to be, there still exists some hesitation about giving up work. But through the years I have learned to trust these little life messages I get and that there will always be more money.
After getting that schedule change, I went to work on the “cleaning up the mess of my life”. I had another five days off at the start of August and decided to spend it cleaning up around my home. I did an overhaul, something that I had not done in several years. I went through every box and drawer and decided what I needed and did not. I also got a storage locker, so things I didn’t fully need I can put there.
It was the oddest of realizations. I know storage lockers exist. I know my neighbours have them. It honestly never occurred to me that I could own one. It now holds several items that are not needed regularly around the home and a hockey bag collection of clothes that mostly no longer fit my large muscular frame but were too nice to give up.
By the end of those days, my schedule got a bit cleaner and so did my home. I started feeling pretty good about it all. For “slow down” I also scheduled less. I cut back on some hang-outs and dates and didn’t go out as much as I had been doing the previous three months.
Also during that time, I somehow picked up an additional three classes which all happened to fit into the days I committed to work already. It’s those simple and amazing moments that I am reminded again how I am being taken care of and to continue to trust what I believe to be right.
I started going back to self-care and putting more time into it. I also created a larger gap in my schedule to be still and take time to slow down and definitely keep a “No schedule” day once a week in my calendar.
I feel like I am living my yoga more now than before even if I may not be practicing asana every day at home or the shala. As full-time yoga teachers, we spend much of our time running all over the city teaching classes while suggesting to other to relax, all the while in our heads planning the next nine things we need to do from the word Namaste to when we arrive at another classroom 30 minutes later across town.
Some students have asked me why I am doing this. It’s sweet as they have expressed their disappointment they may not see me as often. The answer is simple for me now. If I am going to say it, and teach, I need to live it. It’s part discipline, as I love to schedule, and it’s part faith. Both are things which have not come easy for me in life but I am definitely glad are a part of it now.
I'm currently picking out night school classes and seeing which ones fit my days off and also spending some time relaxing and staycationing with a friend. We played video games, watched some cartoons and had vegan “chicken” strips for dinner with mac n “cheese”. It was a fun day. I'm seeing my acupuncturist later this week and looking forward to reporting in on his suggestions - and thanking him for my Daniel answer.