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Juggling Act

(Art by s_m_lassiter)

Brahmacarya (Bra ma char EE ya) is one of the five yamas in Yoga, or “great vows”. In direct translation it means “celibacy”, but like everything in the Yoga Sutras it is open to great interpretation. I, like many other Yogis, think of brahmacarya more in terms of conservation of energy. This past week was exceptionally more joyful and pleasant then the last few, and it is due to my practice of brahmacarya.

I read once that women have a little somethin-somethin’ in their brain that supposedly grants them the ability to multi-task much better then men. Years ago “they” finally coined the word multi-task and it took off like a revolution. People pride themselves in the ability to drive a car, text message, put their make-up on, have a conversation with the passenger, and listen to world news all at the same time. “I’m a good multi-tasker,” you might hear someone saying as if they just won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Truthfully, I always cringe at that word: multi-task. How did a noun like task become such a loaded verb? Why is juggling a million things considered such a virtue?

Anyways, what we practice ON the mat in Yoga becomes a great opportunity to experiment in how we want to live our lives OFF the mat. In Yoga there is no place for multi-tasking…it would completely take away from the entire experience of being fully present. There are some Yogis that believe even listening to music while practicing Yoga is a form of multi-tasking and they stray away from it. I don’t necessarily agree with that, but I do see how planning my day or my life’s goals while I move into Downward Facing Dog strips my whole entire practice. I, like many, have to remind myself to come back to my breath, to feel the sensations in my body, to stay present. If I’m doing this on the mat in Yoga, you can bet this is something I need to remind myself to do off the mat too.

Being a teacher in a public school everyone expects you to be a queen at multi-tasking. It seems like everyday they throw something new at you that you need to be throwing into the juggling act. But I am a firm believer that multi-tasking is a trend, and not a way of life. Especially after reading The Law of Attraction this past summer, I realized that each moment needs a clear intention and attention. One thing that I’ve been doing this year so far at school (it’s already been a month–can you believe it?!?!), is being physically present in the classroom with my students, but my mind (and heart) have been somewhere totally different. That too is a form of multi-tasking…probably the worst kind. First it started by my mind and heart still deciding to hang back in the days of summer vacation…remember that–blogging, painting, Yoga, tons of fresh juice, and easy living! Then, last week I gave up living in the past and fast forward my mind and heart into the future. What happened with this dual life I was living at school is that the universe threw me a tough bunch of kiddos. That’s right…middle schoolers…but 34 of the most challenging students in the school, all in one delicious class. When you are dealing with a group of children that so desperately need love, attention, and most especially clear boundaries, there is no time to be dancing in day dreams. I found myself needing to stay 100% present or find myself sinking in a sea of chaos.

My first reaction was to resist. My whole black cloud business that started to appear a couple weeks ago, was really the fog that came from kicking up dust as I threw a mental tantrum!!! I don’t want to deal with these problems…I want to go back to summer vacation!! Wah! Wah! WAH!!! Can you hear me crying? But it took a day off to regroup to realize that everything in life is Yoga, and these kiddos are here to help me on my path. So this week I treated it exactly like Yoga, and when I found myself mentally multi-tasking I concentrated on my breath and reminded myself of my intention as a teacher in the first place. My intention actually when I started this journey in education was to find myself in the midst of students like these kiddos. I sincerely love the ones that come in kicking and screaming…because I was once like them.

Dropping all the mental multi-tasking was much easier then I thought. It is all about being completely present..and not wasting my energy on anything else except what is right in front of me. For me, 34 students that come from lives lacking in structure and guidance. At one point I said something and a girl very disrespectfully mouthed off at me, and it was like the words flew right out the door and all I could see was this sad little girl. I took a second, reminded myself of my breath and the intention to help guide this student onto a more stable and healthy path in life, not to just medicate the problem instantly with a detention and trip to the principal office.

I’m going to leave out the details, but please allow me to share how I realized how important it is NOT to multi-task, but rather to keep ourselves fully present in the task (singular) at hand. Our mind is the biggest fan of multi-tasking and loves to take us on a run somewhere every time a new obstacle is presented to us, but truthfully, its these obstacles that are the magic keys to open the doors to the next level of our spiritual journey. I feel so lucky, so blessed, so very honored to have these students with me now, because they are the ones that presented me with a new key. I only hope I can return the favor.

Peace & Love.
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