Tonight I did a little yoga. A very little — I got about seven minutes in before both the kids, from separate parts of the house, started demanding my attention, and the dog came and started to roll around on my yoga mat.
That’s only one of the reasons I don’t have regular, thriving home yoga practice. Hey, at least tonight I rolled out the mat and got on it for seven minutes.
Yoga is in a weird category for me — things that are good for me and that I actually enjoy, but that take tremendous effort to actually make myself DO. I’m not talking about things that are good for me, or that I should do, but don’t like — like housework or eating my greens, or forms of exercise I really dislike such as running or weight training. Nor is yoga in the category of things that I like and are good for me that require no effort whatsoever, such as reading and hot baths. No, yoga (and other forms of exercise I enjoy, which would include walking and water fitness and … that’s about it) are weird, because I never do it without feeling good, and I never do it without having to force myself to overcome that inertia.
Why is that? How can something be good for me and enjoyable, and yet I have to make myself do it?
I guess it’s because exercise, even the kind I like, requires discipline. It requires me to put aside laziness and do something. Baths and reading do not require much of me, but yoga takes effort. The effort brings immediate, enjoyable rewards, but it’s still effort. And I’m basically a lazy person.
The same is true of my spiritual life (and of course yoga and spirituality are not entirely separate, but that’s a whole other post for another time). Prayer takes effort. Reading the Bible takes effort (unlike reading a novel). It’s good for me and I like it, but I have to overcome both physical and spiritual inertia to do the things that require some discipline. I’m not naturally disciplined.
Also in this category — things I enjoy that require some discipline — would be writing, and spending “quality time” with my kids. There’s always that laziness, that inertia to overcome, before I can move into the thing that I know is good for me, and that I will actually be glad I did.
I really believe discipline is important if you want to be a whole person. Which is why I observe Lent, even though it’s not part of my spiritual tradition.
For those of you who’ve been on the blog-journey with me for awhile now, you know about me and Lent, and I don’t need to explain. (Previous blogs on the subject are here, here, and here, with an article I wrote about it here . Looking back I notice that Christopher was home sick from school on Ash Wednesday for each of the last two years, just as he was today — is that weird or what?)
For my new cyber-friends, the short version is that even though Seventh-day Adventists don’t observe Lent, I do, because I find that giving up some of my comforts (typically, chocolate and fiction) for six weeks and trying to focus more on spiritual things forces me out of my comfort zone, nudges me a little closer to God, and gives some kind of spiritual shape and meaning to the bleakest part of the year.
So every year I ask myself will I do it again, and every year I decide at the last minute that yes, I will. Today I observed my own tiny little Mardi Gras, stopping by Stabucks for my last Raspberry Mocha and dark chocolate graham crackers till Easter, and stopping by the library to pick up some interesting-looking non-fiction. My Lenten reading journey always carries me to some interesting places, and the practice of self-denial, while I know some people have doubts about it, works for me in a weird way. I don’t always know why it works; maybe just because I learn things about myself.
So, here we go. Trying to overcome some midwinter inertia, build some spiritual muscles — or perhaps relax the muscles that keep me relying on myself and my own little comfort objects, and try to relax into relying on God a little more.
I’ll keep you posted.