Love Serve Meditate Realize

Monday, Nov 04, 2013 Time piece.


“You may delay, but time will not.” — Benjamin Franklin

Marydale was fascinated by a program she watched on television last year that described how most of the western world adopted Greenwich Mean Time as its time standard in the mid-1800s (later becoming a global standard). This grew out of a need to coordinate train travel, but evolved into the way we tell time across the planet. Having a standard allows society to function smoothly, for without some type of benchmark by which to measure time we’d have trouble making plans with each other or sticking to schedules of any kind.

For certain individuals, however, time continues to be a relative concept. This has confounded me for years, since it has come up in my life again and again in the form of friends, family members, and people I’ve encountered in a variety of ways who stubbornly refuse to adhere to the clock.

I am a person who can always be counted on to be on time or even slightly early for work, appointments, meetings, or other engagements. It is very logical to me. I calculate the time it is likely to take me to arrive at my destination, pad it a little to account for traffic or unexpected delays, then work backward to determine when I’ll need to leave in order to arrive on time. If experience is any indication, though, I am clearly in the minority with regard to this practice.

I used to get very angry when people kept me waiting by arriving late for appointments. I even broke up with a friend in large part due to his habit of being as much as an hour late to meetings we’d planned. I felt that it was not just illogical (if we agreed to meet at 1:00, how can you not realize that you’re already late if you haven’t even left the house by 1:00?), but rude and disrespectful. Since most of these people were loved ones, I had to find a way to understand this behavior.

I did some research on people who are chronically late and discovered that, for most of them, it is a time management issue. They do not intend to be rude or disrespectful, but they just can’t seem to get it together to leave on time. They may have miscalculated, lost track of time, or had something suddenly waylay them on their way out the door (I’m sure that Law of Attraction adherents would have something to say about this). The fact that they are late may make them agitated and nervous, and they are often profusely apologetic when they arrive. They don’t want to be this way, but don’t seem able to change their behavior.

Others in the chronically late camp are just more lax about the concept of time and assume that everyone else feels the same way too. For them, time is relative and they figure they’ll get there when they get there. “When you said 1:00, I didn’t think you meant on the dot.” They assume that any consequences of their behavior affect them alone (i.e., if they are late for a movie, you can go in ahead of time and they will be the ones to miss the beginning of the show). They also are not trying to be rude or disrespectful, but that is because they don’t seem to have an awareness that their behavior is perceived that way.

This brings me to the purpose of this post (yes, I do have one). Since Marydale opened the studio, we’ve had a number of students—and even teachers, on occasion—who are chronically late to class. This has been a source of frustration for both of us, since Marydale is also a person who makes an effort to always be on time. She has tried to gently remind students of the importance of arriving for class on time, and we created a Yoga Etiquette handout where the first item on the list is: “Arrive in plenty of time to set up your space prior to the beginning of class.” We’ve mentioned the issue in our monthly newsletter. And yet the problem persists.

Marydale and I have discussed why this issue bothers us and have wondered if the old saying that “what you resist persists” is at work here. Perhaps, as yogis, we should just let it go and allow people to be as they are. And yet there is something larger at work here that involves all of the members of our Param Yoga community.

When you arrive late for class, you are usually in a rush and flustered, which is not the best state in which to begin your practice. Entering the class once it is already underway can also be disruptive to the other students. It can be distracting for them to hear and see you setting up your mat while they are trying to meditate or do asana, and someone may have to stop what they are doing to move over and make room for you. You are also cheating yourself out of the full benefit of the class, since it is designed to give you a complete experience from beginning to end.

One of the things yoga teaches us is mindfulness: with regard to your thoughts, your body, your life, and the others with whom you interact. This includes mindfulness of time and commitments. Yoga is a commitment you make to yourself to take care of your body and live your best life. It is also a commitment you make to the teacher and the other students to arrive on time and participate fully in the class.

Conversely, we must all as yogis be respectful of the differences in others and be aware that life and people are not perfect. Things may come up that are unavoidable, which will cause people to be late for class from time to time. When this happens, we are encouraged to go deeper into our practice, to be loving and allowing and to release distractions as we turn our focus within.

Hopefully—with time—we will all find a balance between structure and flow, responsibility and acceptance, and living within the constraints of time while staying present in the eternal now. I look forward to learning from all of you as we continue on this journey together.

See you on the mat!


posted by Kirsten K.