I was at a retreat this weekend, and seemingly unrelated I am also in school to become an Ayurveda practitioner. Two things that seem to have no relevance to each other actually do.
In Ayurveda we are learning about all of the ways to live a healthy Ayurvedic lifestyle. The morning routine of Dinacharya is one of them, eating for the seasons, consuming the right fluids and the right times, practicing meditation, pranayama (breathing) and yoga, sleeping the appropriate amounts during the appropriate hours. All of these are just some of the things that one has to consider. And don’t even get me started about the constant consideration of one’s bowel movements! I am in school on Thursday morning and guaranteed by noon on Thursday I am pouring over my text books to learn more about what we just learned to be better.
So now the retreat part…at this amazing retreat we were talking about ways to look after ourselves, tools for coping with life. What types of things you can add to your life to bring balance and ease. We learned about ways to be a better human, not judging people for things like not putting their grocery carts away. We learned how to let go of attachments and many other useful things.
So, my pitta (it's an Ayurveda thing) personality takes all of these things and says that I need to be doing ALL OF THE THINGS, ALL OF THE TIME.
I get started…I get my pen and notebook and I write myself a schedule for the day, how and when I am going to do what I need to live the most perfectly balanced life, to be “the best version of myself”. I buy all of the stuff that I need, I meal plan, I set alarms in my phone, I make promises to myself, sometimes I even sign up for courses to make me better, I put sticky notes all over my house.
And what always happens? I try to do too much at one time. I put too much pressure on myself and my fire burns out. AND THEN, I beat myself up for failing!!!
The point of all of this is to say that life, yoga, Ayurveda is a practice, and NOTHING is going to make you a perfect human. It’s not possible.
Is doing yoga everyday something I try to attain? Yes. Do I? No.
What I do do consistently is take my medication, brush my teeth, scrape my tongue, and sleep with my CPAP machine.
In my perfect life this is what my day would look like…
Wake up at 6:30, with a smile and gratitude, maybe a gentle stretch in bed
Medicine, wash face, brush teeth, scrape my tongue
Glass of hot water
20 minutes walk on the treadmill or outside, sweat a little bit
Yoga asana practice
Plan my day, journal, set intentions
Bathroom routine: dry brush, self oil massage, netti pot my nose, oil ears and nose, hydrate eyes, shower, moisturize and sunscreen.
Work of some type
Reading for learning / school
Healthy lunch (biggest and most nutritious meal of the day)
15-20 minute walk
CCF tea time
Reading for pleasure
Home chores (with dancing for endorphins) or work (yoga)
Healthy dinner with perfect proportions
Walk the dog
Yoga and meditation
Evening routine: wash face, brush, floss, oil my low back, oil my feet, medication.
Journaling and gratitude practice
Sleep 8.5 hours
And in this perfect day I would also drink 8 cups of water, I would have a cup of bone broth with my lunch, I would not consume any caffeine or artificial sweetener, I would not eat after dinner, I would not watch any television that wasn’t uplifting or educational. Oh, and while I walk I will be listening to educational or empowering pod casts.
Also in this perfect life I wouldn’t get angry or tired, I would alway have the exact right amount of energy. I would be able to always control my emotions, be kind and be productive. If a shitty situation arose, I would have the tools to behave as an enlightened person. If I felt an emotion I would be able to process it and learn the appropriate lessons. I would laugh and feel joy every single day.
If I could just do all of these things I would no longer have depression, anxiety, ptsd, diabetes or inflammation. My bowel movements would always be perfect and rainbows would shine out of my ass.
It’s so easy to get caught up in wanting to be better, I’m not saying that wanting to be better is a bad thing, it’s not, self improvement is never wasted. What IS a problem is thinking that a retreat, class, book, exercise regime, guru, religion, vitamin or medication is going to solve it for you. And what is even more dangerous is thinking that you have to do ALL OF THE THINGS, ALL OF THE TIME, 100% correct; and that if you DON’T do these things you are a failure.
It reminds me of that old Baz Luhrmann song, Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen), in that song he says:
“Sometimes your ahead,
Sometimes your behind,
The race is long, and in the end it’s only with yourself”
It also reminds me of that meme on social media, the says: on the days you only have 40% to give and you give 40%, you are giving 100%.
Somedays I do all the things (I’m ahead), somedays I only manage to take my medication (I’m behind), but I am only racing with myself. And when I am trying my best, I am giving my 100%.
So, I guess this was a long way of saying that I realize that being caught in the trap of the wellness industry is the incessant struggle with trying to be prefect, to do all of the perfect things, all of the prefect time; and being made to believe that this type of schedule, regime, habit, practice, etc. will make your life better. I can’t. You can’t. It’s just not possible.
What I can do is try everyday, in every little way to make the best choice and decision for myself at the time. Like Glennon Doyle says, “what is the next right thing?” Is the next right thing to follow this set itinerary for optimal performance? Or is the next right thing to pick one thing that would make me feel better and do that? Maybe one day it is the whole routine and another day maybe it’s just remembering the gift of my breath.
So, with all of that rambling, I invite you to listen to that old but good Baz Lahrmann song, and maybe not make yourself crazy trying to do all of the things, but maybe just one thing.