In yoga, getting thrown-off balance is a thing: perturbation, it’s called. Ironically, it’s actually what builds balance.
We’re not meant to stand in perfect tree pose, Vrikshasana, as if in a vacuum. Trees learn to bend in the wind – and so must we humans. The point of yoga, in fact, is to find the equilibrium amidst the disruption. In the wobbling is where we develop joint strength and concentration.
That is the practice.
Though I didn’t quite see it that way when I was so caught-up in it, when my sweet, solo nomad routine was driven, suddenly, by the needs of domestic animals.
In my latest Ramblin' Anne transition, over the last month – Chincoteague to DC to NC – everywhere I’ve stayed, I’ve had to adopt a new routine.
Ahh, routines, where would we be without them? Routines save us time and energy, minimize surprises, optimize our lives. We don't have to think! Eat the same bowl of granola with berries and flax each morning, take the same route to and from work each day, attend the same yoga class Monday, Wednesday and Friday evenings.
As a life-long analyst and change consultant, I'm a fan of routines, processes, systems, workflows. I'm paid to find efficiencies and effectiveness in organizations - cut the thrashing, find the flow, make the most of every labor hour and dollar.
Yet, here I am, living life as a nomad, continuously busting the system, breaking the routine, and starting over again and again, every few months or weeks or even days.
Seven moves in the last four weeks?! How ridiculously inefficient!
And this latest stint tops them all: two weeks as dog/cat/fish/plant and house-sitter, I've had to adapt to the pets’ routines – two feedings times two, plus three-dog-walks a day. Attending to the fish and plants, too. There went my beloved, daily breakfast, yoga, and writing routine.
I’ve never been much of a pet person; so you can bet, the first few days at this place and I felt just a tiny bit discombobulated, if not downright triggered by the 6 am wake-up whine of the cat, his body bumping my bedroom door, hours before my alarm was set to chime.
“This is unacceptable,” I’d yowled, clutching the kitty-cat around his furry body and marching him right down to the basement until I was ready to deal with reality.
"Bad pet-sitter," I lamented. "But what about my morning yoga and meditation," I fumed, as I fed the pets, cleaned the litter box, and attached the leash to the dog’s collar so she could walk me. As per the house-sitting instructions: “Cashew chooses the route. It’s different every day.”
But here was the beauty in the discombobulation: those three walks a day with Cashew, so arduous for Caroline my Crooked Spiral Spine, may have been just the right thing. Along Sligo Creek, I got to where I would pause, at a park bench or bridge railing, claiming a bit of control over the dog, and move through an improvised yoga routine, beneath the tree canopy, creek gurgling in the background.
Cashew got to where she didn’t mind my pauses and took the time to watch the world – and other dogs – saunter by. The dog's routine had to change, too. As long as I fed her a greenie treat when the walk was done, she was cool with a little perturbation in her life.
With my morning exercise out of the way, the animals fed and walked, plants watered, I could finally plop down at the desk with my bowl of boring granola and settle into writing. Ahhh.
Take note: not everything must change; some elements of our routines – though they may shift – cannot be compromised. For me, yoga and writing are the anchors.
Little by little, over the two weeks in Silver Spring, I fell into a new routine. Sure, I missed my Chincoteague Island YMCA yoga class; but I had my daily Cashew yoga walks; I even found a Y a half mile from the house and went for lap swims, when the weather cooperated, an unexpected bonus.
And then, Bamm!
Just as pet-sitting life was getting comfortable, it was time to pack up, again, and move on.
Well into summer, now, I’m on route to my next nomad home, in the cool lush calm of the North Carolina mountains. I’ll have to finding my footing up at 4000 feet, build new community, create a new routine.
What juicy perturbations await me at Firefly Lodge? What new sides of myself will I get a chance to see?
Reader Reflection - share your ideas...
What’s your routine like?
What are your anchors?
How do you deal when perturbations throw you off?
Where might you welcome some positive disruption into your comfy status quo? (i.e., How might you grow?)