What zombie hands have to do with yoga
I have a bad habit of reading my phone while walking into heavy traffic.
Yesterday, walking to lunch, I had to deliberately return my phone to my bag on three separate occasions after, zombie like, my hand decided to reach in and pull it out.
“No, Rachel, No!” I muttered out loud, as if my hand were a recalcitrant child that could be scolded into behaving, “Jesus.” I nearly walked into a parked Volvo. “Get it together.”
We are growing so connected, so “on” all the time. Information is strapped to our bodies, “Let’s google that,” we say, rather than “I don’t know.” “I’ll text her now,” rather than “I’ll ask her later when I see her.”
When there is that odd moment between the doing – like when walking or waiting in line – I instinctively rush to fill it with this information/ connection glut. It is much more comfortable to reach for my phone than to take a breath. There are so many delightful options at my fingertips that provide an immediate rush of competence and popularity: email, texting, Tinder (ahem), flipping through Facebook…there’s always some hook to catch.
It’s not our fault that we are uptrained to technology. Our culture supports this electric conductivity, encouraging us to be in our virtual minds as much as possible to be popular (you’re not on instagram?), well-informed (you don’t get google scholar alerts? what about the political gabfest podcast?), connected (you’re not on linked in?). Information and connection, at this point, are so prevalent that it is no longer a matter of if we can connect, but how we filter out the noise. For human beings, wired for community, connective technology is sugar for our psyche.
Connecting out is easy, fast, satisfying.
Connecting in is slower, messier, and can be scary.
When the furor dies down and the waters become still, pausing and turning into ourselves can reveal hurts, thoughts, vulnerabilities that are easily scotched over in the fluster of our lives. At the end of my day at home, I sit and watch my compulsion to do anything (budget, email, eat glutinos, watch House of Cards) rather than breathe into the soft animal of loneliness that sometimes comes to visit. But when I am brave enough to turn in, connect, and invite myself to feel, then through the bittersweet human pangs there arises the deep sense of hereness, of being, of safety in myself.
The space between the doings reveals us again as human beings, breathing in the vast, unfathomable, and heart breaking space of simple aliveness and all our unfinished business. We move (as Jon Kabat Zinn eloquently states) from the digital world to the analog. Time is slower, counted by the footfalls on a forest hike rather than in the impatient milliseconds it takes a page to load. In the being moments, we are perfectly imperfect, practicing just being with ourselves as we are.
Yoga practice offers us a rare and precious space to turn inwards. To feel. To reclaim our deeper, older, and wildish aspects. We connect with that which is beyond words and speaks in the language of sensation. We make space to feel our physical bodies, our animal desires, our emotions, our intuition, our breath.
As we move in, we nourish the deep roots, dig into the dark soil of who we are. This re-integration gives us the solidity and form that we need to be steady amidst the winds. We can remember our purpose, our love, our softness.
Our hand then remembers to leave the phone in the bag. Because the walk is so much sweeter without it.