Monday Mantra: Inessential

Last week I taught class themes encouraging students to release what they might recognize as inessential - not necessary - to continue carrying along in body and mind.  Sometimes when deep into the yoga practice, we come face-to-face with something we do not need which we have been holding on to. It can take the form of a concern, a thought pattern, or a habitual judgment.  It can feel like a pang in the heart, a pain in the hip, or a pulsing headache. By freeing ourselves of the space it occupies, we create room to cultivate something we need to grow in its place. There is an exchange.

Mid-week, the word "inessential" took on sharp potency when I read Oliver Sacks' Op-Ed for the New York Times, My Own Life: Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer.  Mr. Sacks, thinker/writer/neurologist, is dying. An excerpt:

"Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential."

I encourage you to read the full piece. It is honest, heartfelt, simple, and inspiring to those of us who still have time to live on this earth. Mr. Sacks has given us a gift. I am grateful that in the process of his detaching, he found a moment to share this lesson with us as one of his inessential tasks...always teaching by example.

While it might be a futile exercise until the moment we learn of our impending death (perhaps we truly cannot answer until that precise moment), I would like to pose two questions to all of you:

What could you let go of that is inessential to your living? What is essential to your living on which you could place a greater focus now?

- TaraMarie Perri


Monday Mantra: Need

Screenshot 2014-10-20 17.27.34 "I already have everything I need."

Inspired by Brianna Goodman's Sunday post on the Brew, "Observing Our Losses and Our Gains," I recalled this mantra. I do not know the exact source but it was a mantra I received years ago from a friend when setting off on my dream to build our creative teaching and research community. I knew there would be major sacrifices as I left my six-figure corporate salary to start something new. The mantra kept me sane during that transition. I can say the risk was well worth it but, boy, it was scary!

I think it goes without saying that this mantra is not solely reserved for financial or material situations. These six words still soothe my nerves during anxious moments of anticipating a new opportunity, pathway, or adventure, or when holding on too tightly to a fully-imagined hope I have placed far off into the future. Yet daily life remains the best source to recognize when to apply such wisdom. Brianna gave us some great examples to ponder.  Here is one of mine:

Recently, I moved apartments and I have to admit I have not fully unpacked. I am living only with the bare necessities and a few neatly stacked piles of cardboard boxes. While I realistically need to unpack a little bit more to at least make my new place function like my home, I admit I have slipped into appreciating the sparse quality of having very little to distract me in my environment. Minimalism and simplicity in my home is incredibly appealing and comforting. I tend towards white walls, clean lines, and no clutter. Here I have created a whole new level of minimal, even for me!

Lately, I have begun to wonder what would happen if I never unpack? Would I lose a part of me by never glimpsing the contents of the boxes? Life has been going on. I have been eating, sleeping, and working just fine without the contents of those boxes. Yes, some of my beloved books and favorite dishes are stuck in hiding and it will feel more like home to have them out in the open. But for the time being, I am curious what I could part with because I can no longer remember it.  Out of sight. Out of mind.

Do you have any uses for this mantra in your life?  How do you define a "need"?

- TaraMarie Perri