Have you ever tried to hold a clump of sand in your hands? Of course you have. Then you know that the more tightly you try to grip it the more the sand just falls from every crack and crevice. You also know the other side of that coin, too: if you're too lackadaisical you'll drop the whole load. To keep a hold on as much of your precious sand as possible, your grip must be structured yet relaxed, balanced, and at ease. It's much the same with our grip on anything we do to build our ideal lifestyle. Be it our yoga practice, hobbies, exercise, work, or relationships, everything we pick up as part of creating a better way of living must be held as sand in our attention and efforts. If we try to grip any discipline or practice too tightly, it will find a way to escape our grasp. If our approach is too careless, we'll never retain it. Yet, when we hold the grains of our ideal lifestyle in our attention with a balanced, relaxed focus, enjoying every moment for just what it is, we'll be able to maintain our grip on a whole pile of great lifestyle at once.
Yet, this quality of ease and focus in our grip on our lives is of course not easy in and of itself. We naturally tend to lean either towards the tightly wound or the barely there extremes in our attitudes, depending on personality and life circumstances. And this is nothing new. Our struggles with maintaining focus and balance date back to long before iPads and television. Heck it's what most of the Yoga Sutras and yogic philosophy are about (i.e. calming the fluctuations of our mind, balancing our essential elements of passion/sleep/equanimity, and finding the middle ground between strength and openness). So why do we even try, then? Shouldn't we just give in to our impulses for cake, ice cream, debauchery, and small-mindedness? If we know that humankind has yet to find the magic button we can push to attain that elusive balance and finally get a grip on ourselves and our lives once and for all, why should we try so hard to figure it out?
The answer is we shouldn't...try so hard, that is. We know for a fact that no one is "perfect." And yet we also know for a fact that each of us is capable of achieving so much more for ourselves than we might do on any given day. We also know that it feels really good to move ourselves forward, to be better than we once were. So if we put those knowns together, we can approach every day with a sense of balance and motivation. We might say to ourselves on the one hand, "I'm going to work on x, y, and z amazing things that push me to be a better human being, and that I realistically believe I can accomplish today." Then, we remind ourselves that, "No matter how much of x, y, and z I get done, setting the goals and following through with even a little effort is a huge step forward." Let's compress that into a shorter affirmation you might like: "I believe I can. I will. And I'll enjoy the heck out of doing it."
Keep this in mind this week as you perhaps work on adding something to your yogafied way of life beyond remembering to breathe well. Don't be hard on yourself if things don't work as you plan, rather carry on planning and working on things. Get a grip that's steady, focused, yet at ease, and just watch how many grains of your ideal lifestyle you can collect before your very eyes.