To Plan or Not to Plan
To Plan or Not To Plan
By Laura Mills
This Labor Day weekend I tested the effects of spontaneity on stress. I usually plan my days in great detail, sometimes an entire week in advance, believing for some unproven reason that planning keeps me organized. My extra-calm husband, Jamie, has long encouraged me to schedule less and flow more; when we discussed this particular weekend’s agenda, he suggested we “just see” what happened.
I awoke Saturday morning already jittery. My first thought was, “I have to do laundry, and I can’t forget to buy cat litter.” But Jamie suggested the 7:45 yoga class first thing, so we left behind laundry piles and litter boxes and set out. We followed yoga with an on-a-whim breakfast stop, then kayaked on a local lake. Sometime during the day I did throw in laundry and stop at the pet store, but by dinnertime (for which we decided to order pizza and save the intended grilling for Sunday) I hardly remembered a Saturday that I had enjoyed so much. And by the end of the weekend—the rest of which we passed the same way—we had finished the really necessary chores anyway, virtually stress-free.
Planning surely has its place, and I’m far from ready to abandon planning and start flowing freely every day. But this weekend I reminded myself that shuffling my to-do list need not be an obstacle. On the contrary, occasional spontaneity, moments when I agree to “just see” what happens, might wind up the best moments of any given day, the moments really worth remembering.
FAR TOO RATIONAL, ORDERED, ORGANIZED, PREDICTABLE
SEPTEMBER 16, 2009:
Aren't you tired of being perfect?
I read somewhere once that we are far too rational in our relationships, far too ordered, far too organized and far too predictable in the way we live life. We get stuck in the mundane instead we should "move into spontaneity and serendipity, a level that includes a greater sense of freedom and risk – an active environment full of surprises which encourages a sense of wonder.”
I get tired of being perfect. It is a whole lot more fun being a little messy and entirely more open hearted. Hey I've lived the abuse of perfectionism and learned that the harder we are on ourselves the tougher we are in terms of our expectations of others. Through the last 15 years of spiritual practice I've grown kinder, towards myself and everyone else. Fundamentally we attract the people to us who reflect the relationships we're having with ourselves.
Every day we are asking through our doing. So what are you asking for?
Lately it seems like folks have had a harder time than usual getting back into the swing of this “back to school, back to yoga, back to healthy lifestyle” time of year. It’s been a tough time getting folks to the mat. The reason may be because our summer was less solar so we are a bit less in our energy. Ok, then we have to live with what life is offering us. It is not perfect, the summer was clearly a bit deranged and we had irrational weather. That’s just the way of things, not bad, not good just what was there for us. So it’s up to us to resolve to find the fun and spontaneity in the scope of the energy we feel.
Nature is always our best teacher. A friend shared this story with me today that I share with you here. It goes like this:
“Today, on my run, I heard some squirrel action. Do you know the action I am talking about? It sounded like some pretty intense lovemaking, so I slowed down to see if I could get a view. They were in a tree about 15 feet above my head, and from the sounds of it, things were quite intense! Well, sure enough, they were. The two squirrels were so tightly wound together that it was confusing to see who was who and just precisely what was going on. The inner voyeur was coming alive in me. Just as I was thinking I'd best be getting back to things at hand, something slipped--or a small branch broke, or goodness knows what, but the two squirrels came flying through the air at me and landed in a roiling, squeaking, noise of a mess of squirrel ball that immediately separated into two grey streaks and climbed back up the tree to go at it some more!!!
It was pretty intense.”
You guys, the squirrels clearly did not over organize their location or over analyze their relationship and instead allowed events to simply unfold, then when things didn’t work out the way they expected they were able to regulate or even co-regulate with one another and get right back to what was important to them. In healthy human relationship our partners/friends help us to co-regulate and resolve to adjust to what life is offering instead of getting stuck in the fact it didn’t work the one way we expected. I’ve been in relationship where the other person could not re-regulate and if something didn’t happen according to the “The Plan” the whole day/week/event was ruined. The yogic teachings tell us that narrowly defining the outcome of anything in just 1 way is the root cause of our suffering and disappointment. There is always more than one outcome because life as Emerson writes is life is fluid and volatile. The artist India Arie puts it like this in her lyrics:
“Oh God, grant me the serenity to accept the things
that I can not change,
The courage to change the things I can,
The wisdom to know the difference.
And God, give me the courage to love with an open heart,
an open heart, an open heart.
We have the opportunity not to get dragged down in the details of our lives but live in the broad brush strokes. If we fall out of a tree we get back up the tree to keep enjoying our life! Spontaneity means as my friend Sadie Nardini writes, “If you want love then be love and it will find you exactly as you are experiencing it inside yourself. You can't treat yourself like crap and get sweet love back, you give crappy love to yourself and you'll get crappy love in return. Don’t you deserve better than crappy love?”
If you are harsh, overly regimented, and self-critical in how you treat yourself that’s exactly what you’ll get back in relationship and you DESERVE BETTER! The way you broadcast your life to the world through emotion (lightheartedness, ease, wonder, humor) is then transmitted back to you. Your heart is the mirror. Maybe if we all lived like those squirrels our lives would be more filled with spontaneity, sweet surprises, and pure pleasure! Love yourself, love your day, love your life, Silvia