In a culture where we are addicts of distractions, fast-paced-give-it-to-me-now, kind of society, the access and availability to a quick and easy check out seems appropriate: grocery store self-check, express check, e-z pass freeways, TSA lines (so they claim), online check-out, etc. All elements implemented so we can get to where we need to be faster with less hassle. This is a great concept and works for the majority of how society operates, however, what happens when checking out in terms of daily living takes over how we show up in our bodies, conversations, relationships, careers, yoga practice, eating patterns, and everything else. Are we really getting what we need, or are we creating further self-destruction by avoiding the access and ability to check in?
I struggle with checking in often. As a yoga teacher and practitioner, the ultimate goal is to check in with “self” as it appears daily on the mat. This “checking in” process is catapulted by the awareness of breath, mindfulness of thoughts, and acknowledging the bodily habitual patterns. To help in my own struggle checking out, I’ve tried to implement a few tactics that remind me of what finding pause and checking in on and off the yoga mat can add to my daily life.
1) Find Pause: When the pause button is pressed on the TV, phone, video, etc. all time stands still; it’s a temporary moment. This brief encounter with nothingness can be unnerving and anxiety inducing—we don’t know what is going to happen next and there is a gnawing need for interference or distraction. So next time, when physically standing in the place that invites an express checkout, try checking in: find a pause and go into observation mode. The ability to form a connection as you disconnect from everything going on around you is a giant leap into settling the agitated mind and body.
2) Be still: Sitting in the difficult s**t of life is a gnarly task. Nobody signs up for it, seeks it out, or asks for it as a gift. However, it is part of the territory we occupy on a daily basis. I’ve gone through many heartbreaks and set backs; trying to be still, alone, with my own thoughts has been some of the greatest challenges of my life. Regardless, through the stillness, I have allowed myself to understand what it is I truly don’t want in my life. This has created a daily meditation practice of showing up for 30 – 60 minutes in the stillness of my mind, heart, and consciousness to identify the aspects of my life that are worth the celebration, gratitude, and awareness.
3) Breathe. Breathe more. Breathe Deeper: The breath is a fascinating tool. As we anxiously stand in check out lines, or press the online “pay now” button, drawing awareness to the breath is an indicator to how we show up in our bodies, minds, relationships, etc. Is the breath shallow, limited, cut off, or full, rich, supple, whole? The connection to slow down into deep breathing, taps directly into the parasympathetic nervous system. This is our direct capacity to escape the grind of fight or flight and rely upon the wholeness “ rest and digest” offers for survival.
4) Get Curious: In midst of carving a pathway to check in, I have been drawn to a deeper curiosity of asking myself “what if?” It has created an opportunity to develop a deeper sense of learning what I am attached to, how I allow these attachments make me feel and what my current situation in life would be without them. What if I eat my fifth Girl Scout cookie- is it what I need or am I lacking another sweetness in life? What if I call the ex-boyfriend who I still think about on occasion – is it really going to make me happy or I am filling a void of loneliness? It is only when the check in pathway is cleared to allow for these “what if” moments to arise; and once they do, can we be okay with the answers to our own questions?
5) Non-reactivity: So much easier said than done. Checking in requires a glimpse into a realm of what truly resides inside of our minds and hearts. This can be some crazy s**t. But guess what? We all have a dose of crazy going on! We don’t always like what we feel, see, or encounter, and therefore the cycle continues of numbing out to being an addict of distraction. The biggest challenge for me is this practice of non-reactivity when I am in either checked in or on checked out mode. Impulsivity, habits, boredom, fear, and doubt find ways to creep into those moments. However, when checked in, I am less likely to act on a feeling that is temporary, resulting in a beak in the vicious cycle of returning to checkout mode.
I invite you to find your check in line among the daily opportunities to check out. What if you get a pleasant, unexpected result?