Monday, March 7, 2011

Sadhana and Snow Days

Snowflake. Small microscope kept outdoors. Sna...Image via WikipediaWhat was supposed to have been mostly rain with some accumulating snow overnight turned into the biggest snow storm of the year.  Yesterday morning's rain turned to snow at 1:00 pm and it hasn't stopped coming down yet.  The wind has blown the 18 or more inches of snow into big drifts.  That groundhog from Pennsylvania doesn't know anything about North Country winters.  When Punxsutawney Phil wasn't seeing his shadow, our groundhogs were still fast asleep in their burrows.  Winter never leaves here early.

The county declared a state of emergency, the schools closed, and I was forced to cancel today's yoga classes.  It's a snow day - a day to stay home, goof off, drink hot chocolate and play in the snow.  Or is it?

One thing I've learned about running my own business is there's always something to do.  More often than not, there's more to do than there is time to do it.  I struggle to find the proper balance between doing too much and neglecting the rest of my life, and doing too little and letting undone work pile up.

While in yoga teacher training I wrote a paper on the yogic concept of Sadhana.  Sadhana is a systemized spiritual practice with the goal of attaining some level of spiritual realization.  It is choosing something to practice, doing it regularly, and finding enlightenment, or receiving insight, or doing a handstand.  Directly translated, Sadhana means "discipline."

The difference between doing something every day and Sadhana is the intention.  Without an aspiration, a goal, what you do regularly is just part of a routine, like brushing your teeth every morning.  It is the difference between showing up at work every day because if you sit there for eight hours you'll get paid and working hard for little money because if your research succeeds the alternative fuel source you develop will save the world from global warming.  It is the difference between hopping on your yoga mat when you feel like doing yoga and rolling out your mat every day, at the same time, and practicing every asana on your list for a month, or a year, or five years.

Life in an ashram revolves around Sadhana.  Ashram-dwellers have the same schedule every day, practicing over and over until they get to some higher spiritual place.  They are totally committed to their aspirations and put the rest of life aside until they reach their goals.

Ashrams don't have snow days.

Most of us haven't renounced the rest of our lives for our Sadhana.  We are what the yogis call "householders" - the people who go to work, raise families, cook, clean, wash laundry and, some days, shovel snow in addition to their yoga practice.  I am lucky because teaching yoga classes is part of my practice of yoga, but there is plenty about running a yoga studio that isn't.  Working Sadhana into an already busy life takes a great deal of, well, discipline.

My twitter and blogger friend Kelly is one of the most disciplined triathletes I know.  She is a wife, a mom to a child with special needs, a musician, a teacher, and trains consistently and passionately for her races.  Each week she blogs her training numbers and reminds me that I am supposed to be getting on the treadmill myself.  Yesterday, her blog entry was less about training and more about some family struggles she faced that required her to skip some of that training.  It reminded me that sometimes I have to let the balls of Sadhana drop so I can hug my kid.  That's what it means to be a householder.

So what do I do with this snow day?  Should I be disciplined and declare a work day, because that's what I would be doing if it hadn't snowed?  Or do a take advantage of the unexpected time at home with my family and make some hot chocolate?

As of now, my plan is for alittle of both.  With an extra hug or two thrown in.

Side note:  I have just completed the first week of triathlon training during which I completed every workout I was supposed to since my race season ended last September.  After recovering from last fall's knee injury it was difficult to get going again, and I am paying for my lack of consistency by running very, very slowly.  I'm glad I have six months before the Big George half-iron distance triathlon.

Thanks to the #365yoga crowd on twitter, my home asana and meditation practice has gotten much more consistent.  There is a snippet of ashram-life on twitter - community.  It's much easier to be disciplined in a group.

This morning, while my family was having a snow day sleep-in, I road my bike on the trainer in the basement and did my yoga and meditation practice.  Sadhana was not completely lost in the snow drifts.
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