Even yogis have down days

Today was just one of those days. Feeling narky, out of sorts, with too many troubling thoughts running around my head. I wasn’t in dire straits, just a little off-colour. It happens to all of us, even yogis.

A mindful day

Difference is, we yogis have tools to work with when things seems askew. Mindfulness, deep breathing and conscious relaxation all help to keep intrusive thoughts away. Honestly, on the tough days, there may be a true mishap, but as often as not, you’re feeling bad because of your thoughts. The Buddha talked about the two darts: the first dart is the real situation, what actually happened to cause the hurt. The second dart is what we think about what happened. Often, the first dart is sharp and painful, but short-lived, while the second dart burrows in like a burr beneath a saddle.

On the blah days, it is usually our own thoughts that asail us. So, we observe, then calm them.

Today was my day off. I am not the only person, I know, who feels more stable on work days. Personal life is much more unpredictable and informal than work life, and sometimes it can feel overwhelming.

The weight of household chores and paperwork, then some attempts at a social life or creative release, can leave us feeling a little dispirited and pressed for time at home.

My strategy has always been a “one foot in front of the other” approach. I look at the mess and just start with one small thing. I keep myself focused on the task I have chosen, knowing that it is better to finish one or two small tasks than start a dozen and leave them all unfinished. It has been shown that mess and clutter contribute to feelings of anxiety, so I try not to leave things unfinished. Just get going.

Today, I did some DIY. I am not gifted at DIY, but today I worked slowly and methodically. I did my little tasks well enough. I found the tidying up afterwards particularly tedious, but I plodded through it, realising by this point that some of my narkiness was probably due to hunger.

I washed the dishes while cooking some rice, and sung mantras. Om Tare Ture Tuttare Swaha was the mantra of the day, but I just sing whatever occurs to me. I sang it in my own style, but the version in the link is a cool one. I felt much better by the time the food was ready, so eating it was a pleasure. I sat quietly, doing nothing other than eating mindfully. I chewed and savoured every bite, breathed only through my nose, and paid close attention to every detail. It was heavenly. By the time I got to lie down for a little siesta, it was nearly 17:00. I had a meeting at 18:15, but set my mind to relaxing. It can be hard to relax when you know you have to get going again soon, so I just counted my breath, letting the exhale be longer than the inhale, and relaxed my muscles. I drifted into some state of (un)consciousness. Whether it was sleep or just deep relaxation, I rose feeling much refreshed.

And now it’s evening and I took some time to do a drawing for this post. Drawing mindfully is another wonderful relaxation technique.

As for the million thoughts in my head: they are still there, and the big decision I am turning over still needs to be made. And Mercury is still retrograde, so who knows what will transpire. But, I feel better, happier, lighter and in control of my emotions. And that is what it’s all about.

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