Thursday, March 5, 2015

Enough actually is enough

One of the qualities that Lakshmi invites us to explore in sufficiency.  Enough-ness.  When you live in a culture of excess how do you know you have enough?  I read a study a while back about childhood obesity and children’s eating habits.  In it, children in many different countries were asked how they knew when they were done eating.  The majority of children from Eastern cultures replied when they were full.  In Western cultures the overwhelming response was “when my plate is empty” or “when there is no more food left”.  We have become so used to over-consuming we have lost the inner compass that tells us when we are actually satisfied and we end up having to look outside ourselves and use external markers to try to figure it out.  This of course spills over from food culture into every aspect of our lives including habits of work, exercise, over-scheduling, and consuming in general. When you live in a very affluent area this becomes an even more challenging path to navigate as we are lucky to have so much available to us.

Brene Brown says “When we value our lives based on how much we produce, when exhaustion is a status symbol and busy-ness earns us recognition how can we value rest and play time?”  When is enough enough??  Life in this culture is intense and it is easy to convince ourselves through the prism of mental scarcity that we aren’t going to have enough of anything (since there is always more), so we cling and hoard and consume more and more.  It’s a vicious cycle, and one admittedly I find myself and my children in often. And yet I know that when we identify with our lack rather than our abundance we contract and we cling.  We start to see the whole world from that viewpoint and we forget that the universe is ever-expanding.  That there is always enough of all the things we seek for all beings everywhere. 

Because what is it we really need enough of?  For me: enough courage, enough inner strength, enough wisdom, enough energy, enough love, enough happiness, enough peace. The really lasting knowing of which comes from looking inside rather than outside ourselves.  At some point in our spiritual evolution hopefully we realize we don’t need more and more of anything. Instead, having just enough is plenty, and when we take a step back and look at our lives through the lens of sufficiency most of us see that we are already there.

Yoga practice re-attunes us to our inner compass.  Lakshmi's invitation is to recognize the fullness, the beauty, the wisdom, the joy, and the radiance of who we already are.  It awakens us to faith in an inner fullness that tells us that we have enough.  When we practice with self-love and self-compassion we see that we are enough.  

Since we live in a culture of chronic over-spenders, over-eaters, over-achievers this can be really hard to do, but sufficiency means that you don’t have to do it all.  Mostly because aren’t you tired of being perfect all the time? I am. 

Off the mat:
Choose one aspect of your life to practice recognizing sufficiency in.  Two examples are:

Eating: Chew every bite 30-40 times.  Put your fork down between bites.   Close your eyes after every few bites to notice if you feel full.  When you do, stop eating regardless of how much is left on the plate.

Work: Take a piece of paper and fold it into thirds.  At the start of every day, make three lists with the headings: Have To, Should, and Only If I Have Time.  After finishing your "Have To" list, evaluate whether you have time and energy to get to the next list with full awareness and presence.  If not, save it for the list for tomorrow.

On the Mat:
We started practice in my classes this week in a restorative pose, because one thing I know is that none of us get enough rest!  We practiced antara kumbhaka (retaining the full breath in) as a way of experiencing the fullness of our lives.  We remember that there is always enough breath, it doesn’t run out, it’s always available for us to draw on in a deeper way, just like the deep wellspring of abundance that is our true nature.

For the Anusara Junkies:
Open To Grace: Align (the foundation of the pose) to align with all that is full and abundant in your life.
Settle into the breath and allow yourself to settle into “what is”, knowing it is enough.

Muscular Energy: As your muscles embrace your bones, embrace your life just as it is, knowing we have enough wisdom, energy, love, happiness, etc., etc.
Work at 100% effort – not 99%, not 101% - let 100% be enough and stop there without over-doing.

Inner Spiral: Move the inner thighs back and apart, expanding on the fullness that already exists inside you.
Move inner thighs back and widen your experience of what is already there and full in your life.

Outer Spiral: Outer spiral balances inner spiral – the poses wouldn’t work if we just kept widening and widening – so feel inside when you’ve expanded sufficiently and anchor your tailbone to say “enough”.

Organic Energy: Let the beauty of your pose radiate from a deep feeling of sufficiency, feeling its perfection in whatever form it takes.
Whatever you have to offer is enough – let it the pose sparkle with the radiance of you just as you are.

For those who loved the poem we read in class this week:


It's enough to offer love, 
no matter how imperfectly 
received or given.  It's 
enough to try and fail
at a difficult task; enough 
to fall and rise, stumble, 
fall again, sigh, and start 
to walk, however slowly, 
in the direction the soul 
points.  it's enough to 
seek peace and find pain, 
to gain nothing but a 
vision of truth, and take 
the long route home.  

It's enough to feel 
temptation, the dance 
of the senses, the hot 
pull of desire; enough
to call on God, walk 
through fire, sleep and 
cry and fear or welcome 
dying.  It's enough to be 
and breathe, to feel the
touch of wind on skin.

It's enough to take the 
day as it comes, to watch 
the ripples on the lake as 
the rock sinks to the 
bottom, to see the wild
reflection of the surface
calm into a mirror once 
again.  it's enough to 
hear the voice of fear 
and hide - or seek it out 
and face the shame or 
shadows.  It's enough 
to set out to tame demons
and watch them multiply 
instead.  it's enough to 
be buffeted by the winds 
of change and not blown 
over.  I and you and 
all of us, more than enough.