Hello, there. Namaste.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks, with more work crises and dramas than necessary. The kind that make people upset and stay up at night. Important deadlines, too. It’s not quite over, but today I took some more time than usual to sit with things and process them.

Lovely energy dance to this sequence from Yoga Journal, followed by sitting meditation, which gave me the chance to realize what I’ve learned in this couple of difficult weeks:

The importance of pausing. I was writing a lot, under deadline. By a lot, I mean 8-10 hours a day. I used a computer timer that remided me to take a 5 minute break every 60 minutes. I used some of these breaks for meditation. At the end of the day, I was not exhausted. The breaks helped my ideas re-focus and flow. Pacing myself this way enabled me to work longer, while feeling less tired, and overall, producing better quality work. The last day, with the finish line in sight, I didn’t have patience to take breaks. I pushed right through it. I shouldn’t have. I felt, tired, frazzled, and drained of ideas. I could not maintain focus for as many hours as the previous day. I also started most days with a brief sitting, and ended them with a 21-minute meditation. The morning sitting helped me focus my ideas and energy for the day. It got me ready. The evening one, helped my mind process and organize the day and wind down for sleep.

The importance of sitting. I happened upon this blog post. I tell myself all of these, too. That I try to practice permanently, be mindful all the time. Well, good. It does not substitute sitting. It’s not as powerful as pausing and sitting. Continuous mindfulness helps with actions and reactions in daily life, but it does not provide enough space to process. Sitting is important. And by sitting, I mean actually sitting. I was too tired to sit, and my back hurts when I sit in meditation. So I tried it lying down, especially in the evening. It is much harder to focus the mind and to remember to bring it back to the breath when lying down. They knew something, didn’t they.

The gift of finding acceptance and compassion in a crisis. There’s this person who’s very angry with me right now. So angry, she cannot stand to be in the same room with me. We disagree on some work issues. I am upset, too. I disagree with her judgment and her actions in the past week. But while sitting today, I saw this thought: “I disagree with you, but I have love and compassion for you because I know you are acting out of love and care for someone else.”

That you can hurt someone by caring about them too much. The theme of caring about vs. taking care of has been on my mind for a while now. I know I need to balance those out better. And here it comes again, from another angle, in another context. I am witnessing a situation where caring so much about someone that you become blind can hurt the very person you care about. I care deeply about my students. I think the trust they put in me to let me mess with their minds is a holy gift. I take it seriously. I see them (or I try to see them) for the people, the souls, the minds that they are. But all this happens within the constraints of a system that requires evaluation, grades, standards, and rules. I can see how when you care about a student so much you want to break the rules for them.

Breathe. I’m still learning that. When experiencing discomfort, breathe. That’s what yoga teachers tell you: Sit with it, breathe into it. I can do that in temple pose. But I forgot to do that when a friend hurt me, or a colleague disappointed me. I finally took the time to breathe, while moving in familiar yoga poses, and then I sat with them. 3 minutes each. Some of them, who are more upset with me than others, got 6 minutes. I experienced each one of them as a knot in my heart. So I sat and I breathed into the knot, until, luckily, I saw some clarity, and the knot melted. “I feel love and compassion for you. I know you are a good, even if not perfect, person, and I accept you for who you are.” It applies to all. The friend who hurt me, the colleague who disappointed, and, yes, to myself.

There are many good things that happened in the past two weeks, and I am grateful for them. Work successes, new students, babies being born in the family, new friends. The next big lesson will be to learn to give the good news just as much attention, energy and time as the bad ones.

What have you learned lately?