BUSY IS BULLSHIT: How 75 Minutes in a Yoga Nidra Class Flipped My Perspective
“I’m good! Busy.”
I tend to fall into a routine of allowing the above to be my standard, often disingenuous answer to the question “How are you?”
Rather than making time to formulate an honest and thoughtful, or even candid, response, I find myself regurgitating the packaged response of “busy” without sharing with the inquiring soul as to what it is I am busy doing, or how I am when I am doing all of this busy work, or offering anything even remotely resembling a reflection of how I actually am doing.
And after a particularly “busy” week at my day job, where I found myself snapping rudely at colleagues on conference calls, offering less than helpful responses in emails, and feeling so overwhelmed I was swiping away tears at my desk as quickly as I could before anyone could see, I found myself coming to an at once staggeringly simple and glaring conclusion. . .
Busy is bull shit.
I started thinking about how much human connection I am missing out on by answering the question “How are you?” with the word “Busy.” Because, let’s face it: we are all busy. We all have jobs or are pursuing an education, and some of us are doing both simultaneously. We all have families, friends, and loved ones we want to spend time with in between tending to our responsibilities. We all want to make time and space to keep ourselves healthy and feeling well, be it by sharing the sweat in power vinyasa at Better Buzz Yoga, running, lifting weights, and everything in between.
What a disservice I have been doing myself, and those kind enough to inquire about how I am doing, by answering that simple question with that overused answer. Because in fact, I think it’s fair to argue that “busy” is simply, especially in today’s world of 24/7 interconnectivity, an element of the human condition.
I got so far down the rabbit hole of my own mind contemplating what that word, “busy,” actually means, I looked it up in the dictionary. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, “busy” means 1. Having a great deal to do 2. Occupied with activity and 3. Full of activity.
While the Oxford English Dictionary outlines the aforementioned definitions of “Busy,” as of late, I have found myself resonating with Kurt Vonnegut’s definition of the word “Busy” much more than the with Oxford English Dictionary’s. In his book Cat’s Cradle, Vonnegut writes the following . . .
“Busy, busy, busy is what we . . . whisper whenever we think of how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is.”
Unbeknownst to myself until my recent reflections on what it means to be busy, I have been adapting the ideology of one of my favorite authors when it comes to busy-ness.
I have been responding to the questions “How are you?”, “How are things?”, and “What’s new?” with “Busy,” “Busy,” and “Busy,” subconsciously creating more stress in my life by consciously choosing to overcomplicate everything.
I have been offering an exasperated answer of “Busy” to the question “How goes it?” as though I am a victim of a busy life, when in fact, it’s just the opposite. While I may not have control over the ebbs and flow of what gets thrown at me professionally or personally, I certainly have control over how I handle the ebbs and flows. While I may be powerless to an overwhelming amount of work at my day job, I certainly am not powerless to choosing to reflect instead of react, taking proactive steps towards mitigating the noise and making time to cease the busy-ness.
I have been choosing to be busy; choosing to work late at the office to plow through projects over my regular yoga practice; choosing to work through my lunch break over taking a break to do what I love and write for the Better Buzz Yoga Blog; choosing to work overtime over allowing myself to leave work early and give myself the time to reset and recharge. Not only was busy becoming bull shit in my life, but I was watching it happen. I was drained. I was overwhelmed. And I was over it.
So, as this particularly busy week at work began to wind down, I decided a paradigm shift was due. I left unfinished projects unfinished, left work early, and treated myself to a happy hour with a friend. And when she asked “How are you?” I answered honestly, and candidly, “I am worn down and worn out.”
And I could feel a weight lift off my shoulders instantly. Just by not allowing myself to be so “busy” that I couldn’t honestly answer the question “How are you?” Just by not allowing myself to be so “busy” that I couldn’t make time for honest human connection. And that was just the start of the release.
Enter Yoga Nidra at Better Buzz Yoga. Part yin yoga, part meditation, yin yoga allows yogis and yoginis to experience the benefits of deep stretches in long-holding asanas, coupled with a guided meditation to close out the practice. Knowing that some stillness was just what was needed in my life, and also knowing how challenging it was likely to be for me to slow my mind down, we headed directly from happy hour snacks of chips and guac at the restaurant to Better Buzz Yoga for a 75-minute Yin/Nidra class.
I did not truly know how fast, and unsustainable, a pace I was keeping in my life until I walked into the studio and was forced to slow down. Any hesitation about not being able to slow my body and quiet my mind melted away as soon as I found myself sinking into the first shape. And while the deep tissue stretches did my tense body wonders, it was not until we began the Yoga Nidra practice that I realized just how complicated and busy I was truly making my life.
As Better Buzz Yoga’s Sara Chaplin began taking us through a guided meditation, I found myself at first acutely aware of the sensations in my body and the busy-ness of my mind, and then, gradually, in an almost consciously-aware dream state that was at once relaxing and tremendously powerful.
As Sara slowly eased us out of meditation and back into the four walls of the studio, she warned us of a few things. “Stay in this room as long as you need, you might feel disoriented. Take a big deep breath of fresh air once you get outside, you might feel sleepy.”
And, I did find myself disoriented. Moreover, I found myself slightly unsettled. While at first I was confused as to why I felt so unsettled, I began to realize . . .
I felt unsettled because all of a sudden, everything was crystal clear. I wasn’t busy. I wasn’t overcomplicating anything. I wasn’t overthinking. I just was. It’s almost as though my self-created “busy-ness” had been so overwhelming my life, that to finally feel settled and unpreoccupied almost felt too out of the norm to feel comfortable. And I realized the craziness, the busy-ness, the stress was becoming more of a norm than the feeling of peace. And that was the most unsettling part.
Since that experience, since I realized just how conditioned my mind is to “busy,” I have been doing everything in my power to sustain the flipped perspective that Yoga Nidra provided me. I have embraced an attitude of levity in stressful work situations. I have made myself take breaks to write, or walk outside, or read. I have been home practicing almost daily. I have been allowing myself the time and space to do what I need to do to maintain inner balance. I have started making time for genuine human connection by answering the question “How are you?” honestly and candidly, even when I’m having a shitty day.
I have made a conscious effort to eliminate the word “busy” from my vocabulary, and I have made a conscious effort to replace what was keeping me “busy” in life with what I need to feel fulfilled, from yoga, to writing, to simply sitting in a dark room and mediating for 75 minutes.
I have made a conscious decision that busy is bull shit, and, at least for me, no way to go about experiencing life’s ebbs and flows.