Several months ago, I triumphantly marked out a week off work over the Thanksgiving holiday. My one vacation week of the year. I get the irony that as someone who makes their living assisting others in engaging in self care, I fall into the “do as I say not as I do” camp. I’m working on it. So,one minute after I schedule this week for myself, I immediately begin imagining all the things I’m going to accomplish during this one paltry week. The level of closet organization I’m imagining alone would probably take closer to a month. Never mind all the other cleaning, bill paying, blog writing, friendship cementing, thanksgiving meal cooking and yoga class attending (like a different class at a different yoga studio every day of the week, a veritable Tour de France of yoga) that I was ALSO going to do…during this One. Week. And somewhere in there, I thought my batteries were magically going to recharge themselves.
The trouble with me and vacations is this: I am much more adept at work than I am at play. Sometimes I feel like a person in reverse: my work is where I’m comfortable: “play” is confusing and hard. Give me a body to massage or a class to teach and I know exactly what I’m doing. That’s why, if you’ve noticed, I made my vacation look a lot like work, so I could stay in my comfort zone.
I have a confession to make: it’s only recently I’ve committed myself to really doing savasana (corpse pose) every single time I have an asana practice. Yes, me, Madame Gentle Yoga, who makes sure her students always have ample time for a good long lie down, would opt for just one…more…pose…about half the time. It’s only over the last few months I’ve cracked down on myself and enforced an “always do corpse pose” rule. And I’m sure no one will be surprised to hear that practicing in this way has woken me up to the ways I skip corpse pose in the rest of my life.
I hear there is a phrase in Italian (thanks, Elizabeth Gilbert) – “il bel far niente” – which translates to something like “the beauty of doing nothing.” Now that sounds nice, doesn’t it? And when I hear that a part of me begins the story that this beauty comes after the closets are organized and the papers are shredded and the bills are paid…and yet, they never really are. Just like there’s always one more pose you could do, and yet you stop anyway. And you lie down. Even though. In spite of. You do it anyway. Il bel far niente is the savasana of daily life. And, like corpse pose, it’s not optional. It’s not asana if you don’t do savasana, and it’s not your life if you don’t have time for leisure.
It may sound counterintuitive to crack down on the inability to rest with such…force. But, knowing myself, I’m sure the best way to begin this practice is to sneak rest, sneak play, and sneak leisure onto the to-do list, cleverly disguised as…work.