I am a yogi…but in "other" lives I am also a scientist, friend, sister, daughter, gardener, and homebody. I try to live my life mindfully---mindful of my actions toward others as well as myself, mindful of the energy I bring to a situation, mindful of consequences. I practice yoga, I eat healthily, and I try to practice non-harmfulness, or in yogic terms, ahimsa, towards others as well as toward myself-- to the best of my abilities right now.
All that being said, I have this tendency to overdo things…I am very excitable and if something sparks my fancy, I will over commit myself wholeheartedly. This leads me to worry, stress, and generally feel overwhelmed too much of the time. It’s not that I don’t want to contribute, it’s much more the opposite—I want to be a part of EVERYTHING, I never want to miss a thing! In fact, as I write this, I am sitting in the lab gathering data on a lovely Saturday afternoon! Why? Because I “need” these data—and for some reason, I have convinced myself that it can’t wait until Monday.
So, maybe I overextend myself in ways I love, but I do take time to enjoy those things that make me feel whole and rejuvenated. Beyond yoga and my brand-spankin’ new daily mediation practice (finally! It’s getting easier to sit still for five minutes!), I love to eat, I love to laugh, I love (most) people (haha), and I really love some vino. So, while I enjoy these things most of the time in joyful moderation, but as I mentioned, sometimes I overdo things. Sometimes I overindulge in food and drink, waking up with a groggy head and hints of remorse from a night spent in revelry. As a medical researcher, I know exactly what chronic excesses of fat, sugar, alcohol, and other indulgences can do to a body not only physiologically, but also at the molecular level, and it ain’t pretty, folks. However, our cells are built to handle acute assaults, provided that these incidents of overindulgence are isolated and not every day events.
However, what does this say for my spiritual health? Have I gone against the concept of ahimsa because I sat outside with friends, drinking wine, and listening to music? Am I less of a yogi because I woke up with a headache and stained feet from dancing on the rain-soaked wood of our deck? Certainly not. I am aware of myself and I am aware that those glasses of wine were perhaps not the best prescription for a chipper, early Saturday morning. It’s when we lose sight of ourselves and derive our sole happiness out of these indulgences when it becomes a problem—both physically and spiritually. In fact, one might argue that the food and drink were a remedy for the stress of the busy week, but I would not take it that far. Spending time with my friends was from where the real nugget of soul satisfaction came. Indeed, practicing self-love and non-harmfulness doesn’t mean being a saint, it means staying engaged and aware— and it’s remembering that all of life is part of a practice. Ahimsa means that we practice non-harming in our thoughts, words, and actions. We forgive ourselves. We pick ourselves up and we move on, we move back into our natural rhythm and tendencies. We detox. We “undo.” The same holds true for overtaxing ourselves, our time, and our emotions. These occurrences are not the things that define or nourish us. So, although I woke up with a head full of rocks, I managed to squeak out a few asanas before heading to the laboratory this afternoon, and tonight we will make dinner with veggies from our backyard garden---the grime of last night long gone, but not the memories of friends and laughter.