Self-Practice: Practicing and *Not* Practicing


This post is part of a (mostly) weekly series about the realities, the challenges and the joys of self practice. For more posts in this series, click here

This week I’ve found myself lazing on my mat – practicing but not actually practicing – as I find when I realize I’ve been sitting there not paying attention to my breath or sensation; completely checked out and wondering how much time has gone by since I was last here.

We can use anything to check out – even these tools that are built to help us be present – engaged with this body, this moment. I even think this checking out is not all bad, in moderation, when I can be aware that I’m doing it. Choosing, for example, to just look out the window, not thinking about much of anything at all. In this case it’s been more unconscious, a shift that I don’t notice until I blink with a sudden awareness that I’ve lost time. Usually, this is an indication that I’m tired, or overstimulated, both of which are true this week.

This morning though, I found the fog clearing, some energy returning and a long, slow, mostly attentive practice ensued. Long enough to wind my way safely here into padmasana/lotus at the end – a pose that takes a whole lot of preparation and careful attention for my body to even consider it. Long enough to move slowly through everything my body called for, structure and details and ranges of motion – opening and play. My final rest in savasana – which has also not come easily lately – was lovely; attentive rest without so much struggle. Ah. Enjoying the after effects.

Have you experienced this phenomenon of checking out during your yoga or meditation practice? What’s it like to come back home? How does it feel different when you’re attentive to the process?

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