I love books. Really. Too much probably.
I love book baths where I spread out all the books I’ve got going and hunker down in the middle and just listen to bits of one talk to bits of another. I read a chapter here and another there and I feel out the threads of how one idea connects to a movement which connects to a memory.
I love them because I love to learn. I love how I feel when I have something to share, to teach, to offer that heals or inspires. When I’ve been reading - especially on a topic that we are practicing or that I’m planning to practice - I feel more confident, more assured that this is valuable and worthy of your time. When I don’t read, I start to feel uncertain, uninspired, cranky and sharp.
But reading takes time and concentration. And so I schedule time. I lay claim to it a week in advance, a day in advance, always promising myself that I will get to it. And then, the the thick of a busy work day, in the onslaught of meals and dishes and laundry and homeschooling and driving and groceries and walking and swimming…. And then … of a sudden it is the end of the day and I go to bed frustrated that I haven’t read.
So I try again. And sometimes manage a bit of reading. Skimming through pages and chapters I promise I’ll come back to in greater detail. It is shallow reading. It isn’t satisfying. It is a teaser. It makes me hungrier. And then days/weeks go by of only the shallow reading. And this becomes frustrating and I feel I don’t have command of my time or my choices. How can this be?! And I judge myself a failure for not providing what I know I love and long for. It becomes an energy leak, a tiring cycle of interruptions and hunger and I am left despondent and in doubt of my abilities.
Maybe you know this cycle. Maybe you too have deep hungers that you are trying to get to against the tide of your day. Maybe you too end up tired not from your own efforts but from the LACK of effect you seem to have in your own world. This is an insidious drain on our spirits. I felt it for ages, but couldn’t name it, let alone imagine a cure.
Reading lately, most specifically Deep Work (Cal NewPort) and Do Less (Kate Northrup), I’ve been able to look up from a page calling, “Yes! This is it! This is what I’ve been feeling and trying to change, but how?!”
See that? See how I started with “Reading lately..” Just there?!
When I read, I make connections, I spark with ideas, I have something to share.
I come running down the hillside towards you with light clutched in my hand to show you what I’ve found because that is what lights me up the very very most - to hand you light.
In recent days I have found how to make time to read. Some days it gets away. But I am learning distinct and direct tools to get through my own habits and the fragmentation of a modern, busy life. And I am getting better at it. Everything feels easier. And I feel fed. For the first time since having children 15 years ago, I have the sense that my time is as essential as anyone else’s and I am starting to feel fed, satisfied, fulfilled.
The great yogic sage Patanjali wrote over 2000 years ago that our practice is to be done “Uninterrupted, over time, and with great devotion.” This is the heart of our yoga practice; the way we set time aside for it becomes the foundation of how we set time aside for ourselves. We bow at the altar of our Selves and acknowledge what we need with devotion. Because when we do we are lit, we are generous, we run down the hill handing out light to everyone we see. This is the outcome of Deep Work.
Come June 29, 6:30-8:30pm at Midtown. Register here.
Go Deep with me.
I can’t wait to show you.
If you can’t make it, notice what you are longing for. Notice when you get into bed what you wish you had one more hour for in the day. Start to honor that. Start to simplify and build in what you long for. Take an evening away - a date with you. To a library. To a cafe. To sit and reflect. To walk. To sweat. Listen for what you need. This is your starting point. This is the heart of your hunger. This is what you are willing to fight your habits to get to. You have power. You have power. You are power. Use it to serve the deep work you are here to do.
Much love, Martha xx