While driving down the highway the other day, I had all of the windows rolled down and was truly enjoying the hum of the car and the wind in my locks. It was exhilarating...okay, okay, I was speeding. But, eventually, I ended up behind a slow moving, beautifully restored, powder blue, 1950s classic car. I got the impression that the occupants of this car were out for an old fashioned Sunday drive. So, for reasons that I have yet to figure out (but, likely the Universe helping me avoid a speeding ticket), I decided to slow down and enjoy their easy pace all the way to my exit.
While I was behind them, I recalled a story that my husband told me about a friend of his who would occasionally pull into the break down lane, turn on his hazard lights and cruise at about 10 miles per hour...just to see whatever he saw. When I first heard this, I chuckled at the notion and thought it might be fun to try one day.
I was intrigued by the image of the traffic dancing along in it’s organized chaos. I imagined how some drivers would appear to be working ‘harder’ than others undefined zipping around needlessly changing lanes, shouting or even honking at others to no good end while others would seem to be in the moment...enjoying their music or friendly conversation; and still others might appear to be barely limping along...almost asleep at the wheel. Although all of these drivers were all on the same path they were certainly experiencing different journeys. And, from my vantage point, moving slowly, just outside of the fray...it was hard not to notice, regardless of their journeys, each of them were missing the sweet spots along the way. I know, I know, it sounds like a modern spin on ‘stopping to smell the roses’. But the point is, this story and it’s resulting imagery became the source of one of my personal mantras.
“Break down lane. Now.”
This mantra is preemptive. It stands as a reminder that sometimes the only way to truly move forward is to take a step back....or at least move to the far, far right. By choosing to get in the break down lane now...you may avoid unexpectedly, and inconveniently, finding yourself there later. You don’t have to have a reason to get in the break down lane. In fact, it’s better if you don’t. Acknowledge your goals, deadlines, and ambition, but then practice the ultimate in self control listen inward and chose to feed and nourish your spirit before moving to manage your latest endeavor. Take yourself to a movie, buy yourself some flowers, have lunch with yourself...in other words: get Self-centered.
However you get them in, these small moments of Self-centering to slow down and regroup are critical to cultivating balance in our high paced modern lives. Any practice that gives you that zen-like feeling...whether it’s running, biking, practicing yoga asana, or sitting in meditation...do it now. Get in the break down lane, now.
And now, you’re saying...yep, sure...I’ll get right on that. HOW?! When? Where will I find the time? Everyone’s situation is unique, but here’s one idea.
As an executive in corporate America I was given a bank of time off. There were some company wide set holidays. But the rest of the time was my own to do with as I saw fit; it could be applied to sick days, vacation days, or holidays. I opted to set some of them aside as Personal Wellness Days (PWD). I went through the calendar and strategically placed PWDs near the end of each month. Yep I paid myself upfront...twelve days each year. It appears piddly when you see it in black and white. But I assure you the time was invaluable.
These days were sacred. They could not be used for running errands, catching up on anything remotely work related, or to catch up on to-do list items. They were only for doing things that I truly enjoyed, things that restored my outlook on life. Aside from setting the date, nothing about the day was planned; it was a practice of living in the moment and letting my heart be my guide. I didn’t know it at the time, but this is a deeply rooted yogic practice.
Now, be honest with yourself, when was the last time that you woke up without an agenda?
To support this year’s focus on cultivating balance, we bring you a few tips from yogi, mother, and entrepreneur, Erica Lynn Nunnally, MA, RYT, Usui Reiki Master; guiding principal of Erica Lynn Yoga, a studio without walls.
Erica has been a practicing yogi for over 20 years. Her journey home was full of twists and turns. Along her path, Erica has been employed as an account executive in a trendy advertising and design firm, she designed, built and owned an ice cream and dessert cafe in Boston, and owned and operated an interior design firm on the South Shore.
Erica offers group and private yoga instruction in and around Boston and the South Shore. She also leads retreats both domestically and internationally, her next upcoming retreat is to Costa Rica.