Recently I went to a yoga class at Yoga Village –  I don’t normally attend and I’m so glad I did. The beautiful teacher, Rachel Coopes, told a story about two cats. Stay with me here… this isn’t a homage to fluffy felines (although they are pretty sweet). It’s about how two cats taught me to stop trying so hard.
Picture this. A tomcat – big, fluffy, ginger – sitting curled up in that cat-like way. Just chilling. And in front of Mr Tomcat was a pretty little Burmese cat. She wasn’t chilling, in fact, quite the opposite. Parading herself in front of the tom cat was all Miss Burmese cared about. ‘Look at me, look at me’…she purred as her tail swished, meowing and wriggling about trying to get Mr Tomcat’s attention. Do you think he noticed? Of course not. He was stoic, still and simply kept staring ahead. Unflappable.
After much effort Miss Burmese eventually figured it out. She paused. Stretched out and curled up next to Mr Tomcat in a little patch of sunshine. And only then did the tomcat respond to his new companion.
As the teacher told this story I couldn’t stop smiling. I could see myself in that Burmese. How many times had I ‘paraded’ myself around, trying to seek other’s approval, or my own? Often trying too hard to fill the hours, to be busy, to feel important and special. Working up a sweat, busting myself to achieve ‘something’ when all along the real achievement was right in front of me. Just let go. Stop. Be still. Find a little peace and quiet and just sit in the moment. Enjoy the patch of sunshine, just because…
There are so many moments in our life when effort is needed – we have to put ourselves out there, raw and unashamed, ready to grow, evolve and achieve. I’m a huge fan of ‘effort’… it’s my middle name in fact. But lately, I’m starting to understand the profound power of letting go and trying less. And I’ve noticed when I do try less that some things come to me with a lot more ease.
Mostly though, it’s those moments of pause and respite, soaking up the sun where we I refuel and keep on going.
After this class I went home and wrote down three ways that would help me channel my inner tomcat.
1)    Consciously do nothing when I have a long list of to-dos – snooze, read, stare out the window, lay in the sunshine.
2)   Let someone else make the decisions for me. Stop trying to control the moment and literally go with the flow.
3)   Laugh at myself. Whenever I feel heavy with the weight of my own effort make a point to be irreverent with it and laugh at little at the ‘seriousness’ of it all.
Give it a shot, be like the tomcat  – chill out a little and enjoy your time in the sun.

*Note: this was originally published on MindBodyGreen



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