The concept of instant gratification has been a reoccurring theme for me over the last couple of weeks. Two weeks ago my 6-year-old son was complaining of a headache. After several complaints, I offered him a Children’s Motron. He had not even finished chewing and swallowing the tablet when he told me his head still hurt. I realized right then that he was expecting immediate relief…Instant Gratification.
Then earlier this week, I went to the doctor for a chronic sinus issue that had been bothering me for over a month. I kept hoping my body would cure itself but after 5 weeks or so, I decided to give it some help. The doctor who came in to examine me was instantly defensive, telling me I didn’t have an infection and he wasn’t going to prescribe me antibiotics because they wouldn’t be effective. I listened to his words and then I heard what he was truly saying, he was assuming that I was looking for insta-cure when what I really wanted was to offer my body some help. If there was a way to provide that without drugs…all the better. What he prescribed was Advil and salt water nose spray for 5-7 days and I was thrilled. Once he realized that I was willing to work for it, that I wasn’t expecting instant gratification, his tone and body language completely changed…we were a team working together and I was grateful.
Gratification and Instant really don’t go together when you think about it. Gratification is the satisfaction we get during and after accomplishing something that was hard work…a journey up a mountain…either a real or figurative one. The long-term investment we make in our children comes to mind for me when I think of Gratification, it surely isn’t instant but we have the opportunity to find so much gratification along that journey.
A Yoga practice, being its own type of journey, is also the OPPOSITE of instant gratification. It is a long path and the moment when you find a new edge on your mat can FEEL like instant gratification, but really it is a culmination of all of the steps along the way. The first time we lift into an arm balance really isn’t about that one moment….rather it is the culmination of a practice…of small steps, building and learning and listening to our bodies.
On our mats, with patience and commitment we grow in our practice, and those same skills offer us gratification off our mats as well. I still remember the first time I could hold Downward Dog for 5 breaths without fatigue. I was so happy about that moment but then I realized that it was all the Downward Dogs before that had brought me to that moment…. that day, in that class, on my mat…. where my body and my mind were strong enough. It certainly wasn’t instant but it surely was Gratification…at it’s best.
Again, just yesterday I was chatting with a student about the journey that is a Yoga practice…how there is always more space and flexibility to find no matter how old we are or how long we have been practicing, and again it became obvious to me that our Yoga practice, on and off the mat, is the opposite of INSTANT gratification. It is the true definition of a practice and a journey. As we move along our path, with hard work, focus, patience and space, the GRATIFICATION is with us each step of the way. Namaste.