During an ordinary day—though, really, who can say a day is ever ordinary?—I often forget that time is a gift that is given to us.
So much of my day is spent rushing to perform a set of seemingly endless tasks. Pushing a cart through the supermarket, driving a car, folding laundry, typing at my desk, putting up a pot of coffee, washing dishes. I may be aware of the simplest movements required to accomplish these tasks but I lose sight of the time—the gift of minutes or hours—that it takes to do these things.
For moments, if not hours, of a day—even when I’m talking on the phone with my brother, or when I’m sitting in a coffee shop with friends enjoying a conversation—I can forget that time is passing, the seconds slipping through my inattentive grasp.
This isn’t about memory issues or being forgetful. It’s not about forgetting my name or where I live or what I do for a living. No, it’s not that kind of amnesia or dementia, thank goodness. It’s about being unaware of the moment-to-moment ecstasy of living. How is it possible to be unconscious of the joy that each moment brings? And yet that’s exactly what happens.
Every day, it seems, I can fall into the trap of seeing each day as “ordinary” instead of extraordinary. And seeing each day as “ordinary” —losing sight of the gift of time— leads to other traps, as well, such as the trap of telling myself that I’m not working hard enough or earning enough or caring enough. Or the trap of believing that I should be reading more books, composing more letters, writing more blog posts, meeting more people, learning more things, making more friends on Facebook, doing more than I’m doing.
Only when I step on my mat do I remember the gift of time, the moment-to-moment ecstasy of life, and savor the opportunity to stop doing and simply be.
On the mat I can hear my breath for the first time all day and remember that the seconds of life are passing through me right now.
I can stop berating myself for not doing enough, for not doing what others (including myself) think I “should” be doing. In each pose I can remember to slow down and let myself feel each heartbeat, each breath.
I can stop grasping for a foothold on my climb up an invisible mountain, and, instead, I can let my feet sink into the level earth and stand still in Mountain Pose, just breathing.
The sound of my breath restores the memory of the gift of time, the wonder of the moment. By listening closely to my own inhalation and exhalation, and to the breath of other yogis on the mats beside mine, I can experience life’s moment-to-moment ecstasy of living again and again.
Yoga offers us this gift of time. It helps us learn how to slow down long enough to hear our breath so we can catch a glimpse of the moment-to-moment ecstasy of life.
Practice Journal: How does your yoga practice remind you that time is passing, that each moment is precious, that time is a gift? Write: 10 min.