I went to my daughter’s back to school night a couple of weeks ago. Her school is very focused on character education and one of the tenants mentioned caught my attention. It was a question, When is inaction, action? I spent a bit of time pondering this concept and its different interpretations both on the mat and off. There are a couple ways to interpret this and use it on the mat and they are both powerful.
Last week I had a complicated task for my students. I asked them to really listen to their bodies. Sometimes on our mats, we hold poses for quite a while. The instructor dictates how many breathes and we allow ourselves to be led in that fashion. However, by not releasing when we need to…inaction, we could be creating a negative action; not listening to the body. Forcing, holding or going past our edge, can result in injury…an action that we would not want.
As we began to warm up the core on our backs and transitioned slowly into our opening Sun Salutes, I reminded my students of this powerful concept. I asked the students to work at the pace that was right for them, to make deliberate actions both in their bodies and minds. We added reverse Vinyasas in between each sequence as a way to practice this concept further. When we come out of our comfort zone, move in a way that is different, it sometimes becomes easier to listen to the body; to not just do what we always do even if it doesn’t serve us.
I offered Childs pose several times during this practice as an invitation to experience how conscious inaction could create a positive action. When we rest, we revitalize and create a positive action through inaction. Pigeon worked in much the same way. As we settled deeply into Pigeon pose I asked the students to breathe intentionally and through that breath to focus the mind and channel energy into their hips. From the outside this could look like inaction…stillness….. but there was so much action happening. Tightness and stress was being released and lightness and space was being found…an incredible action from “inaction”.
Off the mat, this question has a different answer. At my daughter’s school they are working to empower kids to stand up for what they believe in and to feel accountable if they witness hurtful behavior and do not take any action. I have been working with this concept in my own life as well recently as I have been part of a group of people who are trying to inspire and motivate a town to turn up to the polls tomorrow to vote.
By not voting…inaction…. one may be creating a negative action. I have written and talked about this concept in my off-the-mat life several times. I call it the “those people” concept. Sometimes we have the tendency by our inaction, to leave decisions in “those other people who might know better’s” hands. By not taking action or making a choice we are empowering others to decide for us. Sometimes that inaction works out just fine, but we have to remember that regardless; through that choice to not act (inaction), an action is happening…and it may not be the one that best serves us.
As we slowed down in Bridge Pose and then spinal twisting on our backs, I asked my students to start to transition what we had practiced on the mat into an off-the-mat application. We had explored this concept two different ways on our mats; Firstly, how NOT listening to the body by coming out or modifying (inaction) could cause a negative action (injury) and Secondly, how what may appear as inaction (childs pose or pigeon pose) can actually create a very positive action.
Off the mat, there is only one interpretation. So as they settled into the final rest…perhaps the ultimate display of inaction…..I asked them to use the time for action. To dedicate those few moments to creating a positive action off the mat. As they wiggled their fingers and toes and rolled to their right sides in preparation for our final seated moment together, I felt an active calmness in the room. I felt a wave of gratitude for how fortunate we all are to have the opportunity to Consciously Choose Our Actions Both ON and OFF the MAT. Namaste