On time

Time The typical morning here is very busy.  That may be an understatement.  There are a lot of things that need to happen for a whole lot of bodies, sometimes in a certain order, so that we can make it out into the world.  In our house there are three children.  Two are at school, one is a baby.  And there are two parents balancing all the children's needs as well as our own.  Among the parents there is one who is commuting to work and one who is trying to hold onto some semblance of a yoga practice each day.  I'll let you guess who that is.  (And more on "holding on" later).

Time is something I think about a lot.  You might also have the same experiences I do with time.  Sometimes you blink and it's gone, like it's just slipped through your fingers.  Other times it drags and never ends and you can't wish it away fast enough.  Then there's the times where time expands and you achieve a rhythm in the time you have.  You get your daily yoga / meditation / spiritual practice in, your kids are dressed and ready, lunches are packed, you're at school on time, you get to work on time and hit today's goals, after school you get to all the activities you need to with time to spare, dinner just works, homework time is a breeze and you can put your feet up with your partner while the kids are tucked soundly in bed.

This feeling of capturing the flow and feeling like you're in the zone is what I'm most interested in.  When "time is on your side" and you don't feel like you are "working against the clock".  Definitely when people practice yoga, they are more likely to feel the effects of flow in their lives.  The topic of flow and the manipulation of space and time in our lives is a huge topic that scientists and psychologists have taken an interest in.  I think yoga has a few answers to how and why a person is able to capture flow and how to replicate it.

One thing I'd like to explore here is Asteya.  The third of the Yamas (the first limb of the 8-limbs and refers to how we relate to others) from the 8 limbed path of yoga.  Asteya means "non-stealing" and refers to having respect for others' property and resources such as time and energy.  More on the other four Yama's later.

When you are a parent, life is busy.  Quite often as a parent you experience time as an elusive resource given out freely to everyone but you.  You move from one task to another, switching from the needs of one member of your family to the next, often leaving your needs to last.  Sometimes things suddenly pop up, you get invited to a school fundraising morning, you are asked to bake another batch of cookies, the music teacher is running 20 minutes late, dinner gets pushed back and everyone is a hungry grumpy mess.  The life of a parent is a scheduling minefield with so many occasions in a day where you need to run "on time".  And when you don't run "on time", it disrupts your flow, this disruption bumps out the next event on the schedule and keeps rolling on through the day until everything is a hot mess and the best thing is to just try to do better tomorrow.

So as parents we see time as one of our most precious commodities.  The value of time is almost priceless in our world.  So have a think about where in your day time is being stolen from you or where you might be stealing it from yourself.  If you are always dropping off at school at the very last minute are you being respectful of your children's time, or if they were dragging their feet in the morning, have they been respectful of yours?  If your child's coach is regularly calling to say that training will be late or cancelled, are you ok with this?  If you say yes to attending a fundraising meeting at school because it's the right thing to do even though you are over-scheduled and over-stretched already, is it still the right thing to do?  If your child suddenly changes plans and wants to stay out with their friends an extra 2 hours then wants you to pick them up, do you drop everything to do so?

The push and pull on your time is constant.  Everyone needs to navigate the demands on our time the best we can, not just parents.  We need to recognise that when we treat time with respect and consider Asteya in relation to time, we can start to see where it's being given freely and where it's being taken from us.  We might begin to recognise there are people in your world who will always take your time or there are situations where we are always stealing time from others.  We might find that when we are saying we are "so busy" as parents, that we have actually overloaded ourselves and are stealing time from those who need it from us the most.

There is an endless stream of stimuli in our world grabbing at our attention and time.  In yoga we put into practice concepts like Asteya to draw our attention back, away from the source of noise in our lives, to give our minds some greater space and peace.  We can then start to find where our boundaries are and be in a better place to maintain them, which benefits not just our inner world, but also our children in the long run.

Where in your life are you stealing time from yourself?  Can you do less, open your schedule more, run more on time so that you can make more space in your life?

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© 2015 Sandra Wang theyogaparent.com