We Westerners love doing. Our culture rewards it -- lauding those who log the most billable hours; making "keeping busy" a valued response to one of our more popular small talk questions. "'What have you been doing?' or 'What are you up to?'"
Sometimes it feels like that inner teacher we hear so much about in yoga class is hiding. And even though we may think we're seeking her out, remaining in "doing" rather than dipping our toes into "being" once and a while, can keep her out of sight.
As Westerners, and Americans, our impulse "to do" may keep us hovering above the ground of being -- the space in which our yoga practice that teaches us to simply "be."
Resting in being, whether it's during a yoga class, or in a state of anxiety after reading an aggravating email from a co-worker, without doing anything right away to fix what's ailing us can be tricky. So often when a challenge arises, our first impulse is to do. To take the next variation in our asana practice or to quickly fire off a response to allay our angst over the annoying email.
Practically speaking, coming into being and truly connecting with our inner wisdom requires us to pause from doing. Maybe for just a moment or two in the beginning.
Call it intuition, your inner teacher or even the divine; most of this insight comes to us in subtle flashes. Without residing in being, at least some of the time, we're likely to miss these snippets. What we want to feel a lightening strike from above telling us how to live, when more often what we get is more like a whisper from a distant room. Move too much, live in "doing," on-the-go all the time, and you're likely to miss these flashes all together.
It's for these reasons that our inner teacher, and finding her, is a moving target. And why tapping into ourselves, through yoga, meditation, or simply in moments of quiet, is an essential practice in tracking her down and understanding what she is telling you.
Absent this, the inner teacher will still try to reach us, even in our storm of doing. But being forced to listen to her after we've failed to recognize more subtle messages isn't particularly sustainable.
You might recognize times when you've had a flash of insight, haven't yielded its call and ended up in a fix of your own making. I've pulled my hamstring in enough forward bends pushing toward achievement to know it's not such a comfortable way to live your life either.
When this has happened, I've sometimes been able to reflect back, to pinpoint the flash of intuition that said, "Stop. That's enough forward bending for you. You don't need to touch your nose to your knee." And nevertheless, the ego pushes on into doing, leaving being in the dust.
We're busy, I get it. But even within our lives full of lists and spouses and children and yoga poses to achieve, stepping out of our goal-oriented, doing-obsessed culture for a moment or two can lend tremendous insight. And in those moments of peace is where our sometimes-evasive inner teacher will peek out from around the corner.