REI’s alternative to Black Friday #optoutside got me thinking. I had an image of #optingoutside being dependent on how well I had #optedin. How present was I being in my experiences? Presence is strikingly subtle.
The other day I walked into my yoga studio full of stressed out energy; it was all on the tip of my tongue. Big, bad things were happening in the lives of several of my friends that needed to be expressed: it felt very 911. I wanted to share and connect—to be heard.
People goodheartedly listen to one another all the time in a sophisticated game of verbal tennis. You share, I respond. I share, you respond. We’ve both been heard. Now we’re at 15-15, and it’s your serve.
Sometimes there’s not a lot of space or poetry in modern conversations.
That day in the yoga studio I felt all my unexpressed feeling right around my head and chest. A cloud, as if I was Pigpen in Charlie Brown. I could imagine expressing it, but I paused. What would that do? Was that what I really needed? What I was handling that day was heavy.
I checked myself.
I slowed down and could feel the separation between ‘me’ and my energy. I brought me and this energy to the yoga studio so I can clear it, or at least right size its place in my life.
Energy often calls for immediate attention, but in observing it prior to acting on it we cultivate strength. And from strength comes our ability to tap into our own renewable power.
I practiced yoga, opting inside to reframe and release that distracting mess of energy. It helped. I finished practice more keenly aware that I am not the energy.
If I’m opting outside I’m: interacting, holding space, contributing, gathering, helping, filtering, receiving and sending.
And I do that all the time. We all do; we get up in the morning and we get ready and we opt outside. We are out there receiving and sending—being battered about by the world—all the live long day. At the end of the day we process the day over drinks or dinner. We replay the highlights and synthesize our experiences. This day is a wrap; and we’re on to the next. Hopefully it was a good day.
Opting inside is about consciously setting an intention for your day, and holding that intention when the day goes sideways. At first this feels odd and irritating. Especially if you’re halfway there, like me…certain you can head into the day feeling mostly pretty good about your attitude.
That is kind of like heading out into the lake in a rowboat with one oar. If the chop picks up, you’re going to want the other oar.
Setting intentions for my day through the acts of creating space, meditating and being true to my yoga practice are habits that take time to develop, just like flossing twice a day, which I do not do but am always talking to myself about.
On the days that I do set an intention or spend time grounding before I opt outside life runs more smoothly than the days when I take my single oar. I feel connected to a fuel source and aware, inside, that I can turn to it when things get tough. I feel powerful; and talking is a nice to have, not an essential