It’s hot in Seattle. I mean drought conditions, lawns that look like hay, heavy sunscreen hot. The Pacific Northwest isn’t known for dry weather, but this year has been an exception. It started in June and there’s no end in sight.
After uninterrupted 90 degree heat, everyone is kind of wiped out. It’s too hot for happy hour outside or long hikes on the weekend. Do you ever feel the same fatigue with your spiritual practice? Are you tired of the nonstop “Make it happen!” newsletters and social media posts? In August we’ll talk about alternatives when you’re just Not Feeling It.
I caught a Peggy Cappy yoga program on PBS, and one of her students mentioned how starting a yoga practice changed her life. Flexibility and core strength weren’t at the top of her list. It was her outlook that was different. She said, “In my thirties, everything was tight. My face, my shoulders. Now everything is loose.”
Her statement echoed back as I watched “Game of Thrones” earlier this year. In the mythic series, there are “stone men” who have a disease like leprosy called greyscale. Greyscale isn’t terminal, but the victims worsen over time. Stone men are described as “…feeble creatures, clumsy, lumbering, witless. The disease – a highly contagious one – not only toughens and greys the skin, but can spread inward to harden the victims’ insides.”
The yoga student was functioning. To her friends and customers at her successful restaurant, it even looked like she was flourishing. However, she didn’t realize her mile-a-minute schedule was slowly turning her into a stone man.
Striving to keep pace meant that she rarely took time off, instead spending hour after hour at the bistro. She was so smart, quick and creative that everyone couldn’t wait to talk to her. She sighed as she described hearing her name called from every direction from the moment she parked her car. Even the memory was exhausting. She was indispensable. And that was bad. After decades of pushing her body and her spirit, now she’s keeping it loose.
There are many ways to keep it loose. Imagine freeing yourself from perfection. Allowing a situation to unfold in its own timing, letting something show up or exit naturally. Simply loosening the “must” structure so you can enjoy the moment. As NBA superstar Blake Griffin has learned, it’s important to enjoy the process of becoming great. When you begin to love the process, you’re not obsessed about jumping to the end.
This is the week to take your foot off the gas. Are you rigid and trudging through life like the stone men, no matter how you try to pump yourself up? Could you be like the yoga student, where your front of energy and enthusiasm masks your exhaustion? If you’re feeling burned out, take the hint. Think of August as a vacation where you’re letting the intentions and good work you’ve done in the first part of this year start to bear fruit. Stay loose and let life surprise you.