One of the many perks of being married to a linguist, is that it is easier to be aware of the importance of the words i use. In addition, as a teacher, i am very interested in using language appropriately and concisely. In addition, an essential part of yoga practice is to study our own mind, its actions and patterns (svadhyaya). So, I really try to pay attention to the words i hear and use. Often i hear expressions like: “i don’t have time for this.” As i pay attention i notice how interesting it is to explore what is meant by such an expression. I don’t have time for this seems to be used when we find an “obstacle” on our way to some destination. We are so motivated to get where we are going that we feel it would be much better, and much more efficient, to not have to deal with some unexpected distractions along the way.
This expression, i don’t have time for this, implies that we have much better things to do with our time. Often, when we use it, we are pointing out that there is something out of our plans, often something we see as negative because we have specific expectations and plans leading us in a different direction.
From the yoga perspective, if we understand that yoga is to be fully present, the practice is to actually give our attention to what is happening right in front of our eyes. Remember that our expectations are seeds for future frustrations and that those expectations will color our experiences as positive or negative. Furthermore, when we recognize that we are always only in one specific time, right here and now, in this moment, today, then it makes sense that it is important to clarify what we have time for.
One suggestion would be to make sure that we have a clear intention that motivates our hearts to move along the path that fulfills our intention. When our intention is very clear, it is much easier to decide what deserves our attention because we know if our actions are aligned to our intention. Along the way, as we recognize that we have very limited (if any) control over the world outside (ishvara pranidhana), we can learn to accept what comes our way. These “distractions” we claim to have no time for, offer us opportunities for clarifying our intention, for cultivating humility and flexibility and, quite often, those same distractions carry the gift of insight into the quality of our participation in this moment.
The next time you hear yourself say: “I don’t have time for this” i may suggest to pause and feel what is happening inside of you. Then take a soft and long breath, and perhaps ask yourself, what is my attitude right now? How does it help me to move towards my intention? What deserve my time and attention?”
I hope these ideas are useful on your path to greater joy, compassion and fulfillment.