Just do it!
Victoria Jackson presents a masterclass in dealing with yoga procrastination… but only after she’s attended to a few minor details first
Recently, as I tried to settle down for my home practice, I got into one on those fidgeting circuits — a cycle of procrastination activities as my mind tried to convince me there’s much more to yoga than just rolling out the mat and getting on with it!
First of all, the room arrangement didn’t feel quite right, so I tried moving a chair to allow a different position for my mat. Maybe that would help. Then it was the temperature — could I really justify putting the fan heater on just for yoga practice, or should I go with more layers of clothing?
So where is my fave sweatshirt? Of course, nothing else will do! Or maybe some music would get me in the mood, so now I need my laptop and the portable speaker, and some great tunes. Just let me go through my saved playlists; this definitely won’t take long!
And while I’ve got my laptop on, maybe I should answer a few of those old emails I’ve been sitting on a while. Which yogic virtue might that count as? Truth-telling satya or decluttering aparigraha…should I look up the yamas and niyamas again just to be sure I remember them correctly? And so it went on. I never think of myself as the creative type, so I am amazed at just how inventive I can be when it comes to excuses not to settle into my practice. And I know it’s not just me.
I was talking with some meditation students recently about what gets in the way of having the ‘perfect’ practice. It’s common to have so many thoughts that it becomes hard to focus, but someone reported how disconcerted they were by how few thoughts they could notice, as though their mind was somewhere else. Not to mention how frustrating ‘meditation on sounds’ were for the student who had a perfectly quiet house! Of course, these experiences can feel pretty intense in the moment but we couldn’t help laughing as we talked about them.
It’s one of the privileges of teaching that you get little windows into how others practice and you are invited to participate a little in the highs and lows as they experience them. I begin to see that my own difficulties are not really ‘my own’ — they are common to so many of us. Instead of criticising myself next time I’m in full-on procrastination mode, I can remind myself that the experience will help someone else.
Not because I can advise them on the best furniture layout for home practice, but because I can reassure them this is all totally normal. And then I’ll tell them to get on with it anyway! “Do as I say, not as I do”. Hmm, could that be one of the niyamas? I’d better just check that before I do my practice.