I remember it was at Boston University that I was first exposed to the idea of doing less and achieving more. It was my Alexander teacher, Betsy Polatin that spoke to us about this concept and it was a complete paradigm shifter. Even though on the surface we were talking about the body, I understood immediately that there was a deeper connotation and I was floored. All my life I was raised with the mantra- work more, get more. It was completely unheard of to me that one could WORK LESS and GET MORE.
The kind of working less I am talking about is not about sitting around watching TV and clipping your toe nails 10 hours a day. It’s a way of life in which you do less and what you choose to do is smart and effectual. Since the day I heard of this concept I have been working to incorporate it more and more strategically into my life and undo the conditioning that it is cheating to know how to WORK WELL and to conduct work from a place of calm and relaxation.
Some people work day and night but GET NOTHING DONE. Still they fall back on the time and energy they put in as “proof” they’ve done their best and an EXCUSE to complain about the futility of their work. I was one of those people, but once I understood there was another way, I had no more excuses. I had to accept that I had the knowledge of how to DO BETTER and therefor the OBLIGATION to myself to do just that. Now I get satisfaction out of WORK that WORKS.
A couple of weeks ago I wrote about retraining the brain. In fact there is a very serious retraining that happens as the yoga practice develops. So many people who come to the Ashtanga practice are A-type worker bees. They try to apply that sensibility in class and soon find out it will only take them so far. There comes a point in the practice where only UNDOING will take you to the next place. This means getting into the asana and then remaining STILL, looking inside for muscles you can release and finally simply BEING a shape in space. This means investigating what it is you’re doing that is NOT NEEDED and DOING LESS. This is a life lesson.
We have so much POWER inside us but we WASTE so much each day chatting, and fidgeting and running our mind around things we can not change. Try BEING STILL when inclined to sway or fidget. Try BEING SILENT when inclined to chime in. Try being present in the FEELING of the moment without the looping commentary. Do this by relaxing your jaw, noticing your breath, and accepting the support of the ground beneath your feet. DON’T make yourself crazy trying to reverse all your habits and trying to change everything at once, but DO come to OBSERVE and UNDERSTAND yourself better at least during the time you are on your mat. You might just find out you hardly knew yourself at all!
*Betsy is seeing private clients this week in New York. You can contact her through the link above. Purchase the life changing book Body Learning to learn more about Alexander Technique.