The Taittiriya Upanishads, one of the classical texts upon which yoga is based, addressed the difficulty that each one of us faces in establishing time to cultivate self-awareness. The authors believed that our fear of temporality is what holds up back from taking the time to nourish ourselves. They believed that when we finally do glimpse the reality that our body, quite definitely, will not last forever, it is the rare person who does not try to suppress, deny, or minimize fear. This fear manifests itself as attempts to grasp or control life through work, achievements, sensory experiences (travel, films, etc) and the accumulation of stuff. Attempts at claiming a quieter life of reflection that would allow us to work with the basic questions of self awareness, are clouded with long “to-do” lists that supports the idea that one’s physical presence is wanted, important and in demand.
The difficulty with our enactment of fear is that it simply doesn’t feel good. We experience increased tension and stress that never seems to be alleviated no matter how much we achieve. Although it seems counter-intuitive the yogic solution to “not enough time” is to add more self-awareness practices; particularly the practice of yoga postures, or asana. Āsana in its broadest therapeutic sense can be considered developing an individual’s right relationship to his or her body. From a Yogic perspective understanding what prevents us from taking the time to nourish ourselves is the first and central task because we often treat the world and everyone around us the same way we treat our body.
The next time you experience fear, whether it is in the form of needing to achieve, needing to feel connected, or the feeling of not having enough time – take a moment to engage in self-care. The Dalai Lama once said, “A half hour of meditation is indispensible every day, unless you are overwhelmed with the tasks and demands of work and family life. If you are overwhelmed, then two hours a day is the absolute minimum.” Take some time each day to nourish a connection with yourself: take a walk, a long bath, engage in a creative endeavor that you plan to never share (that’s just for yourself), or follow up on the commitment to take a regular yoga class.
You’ll find that each and every person in the yoga class has similar difficulty in making time for themselves. We are not as alone as we often think. A yoga community can also be important as people often share stories of the increased energy, vitality and feeling of being engaged and calm that comes from a committed practice of yoga. While the first few weeks it may seem like “one more thing,” over time it becomes a place in which you re-connect with what is most central to yourself, a time to explore how you feel, and a way to connect with your own wisdom, truth and sense of contentment.