I finished teaching my Friday morning class and went around the corner to get a coffee. There were a couple of people leaning with their takeout cups against the glass window, earpieces in, busily talking in the direction of the traffic that moved up Lafayette Street. Inside, a woman in workout clothes read the Times while texting, and I thought about leafing through a section as well, but realized that I would be better off getting a few texts sent and emails written. Or would I?
I clicked off my phone, placed it on the table, rationalizing that I really should be keeping an eye on the time, and then finally, hesitatingly committed. I slipped it back into my bag, relaxed into my seat, sipped my coffee, and just…stared into space.
I remembered a time when sitting and looking was a regular activity for me. It was definitely pre-smart phone era. It was early on in my years in New York, and most memorably from my time before that living in Paris, when there was nothing I loved more than walking the streets until I was lost and then sitting to people-watch at a café. I loved soaking in the world in this way.
So how did I get to a point, as a yoga teacher, that I felt challenged by the idea of simply sitting? Isn’t that part of what I’m supposed to be teaching other people to do? I meditate every day and advocate it passionately, yet outside of the parameters of “now I’m sitting to meditate” I have to remind myself of the value of just sitting and staring into space, sitting and taking in the world.
Too often I forget this. I am a goddess of multitasking and then I wonder why I feel depleted. I have so many ideas that excite me, so many things that I want to do and people who I want to see. I feel blessed in this constant sense of plenitude. But as yogis, artists, and writers we have to nourish ourselves. We put out a lot of energy and we need to refuel. We need stimulation, but we also need silence, quiet, and receptivity. The only way that we can create is to remember to receive. And to receive we need to become very quiet within ourselves. We have to create the space for something to move into. Space enables possibility and possibility enables creative thought.
It has taken me years to relearn that by pausing to receive the world around me, I replenish the reservoir of my creativity. I create enough inner space so that I can more meaningfully actualize my projects. I commit to pausing daily to take in the richness of the world and to truly taste its sweetness by offering it a space to dwell inside of me.
As a visual artist and yoga teacher, Susanna’s classes offer an experience of creativity, intensity and grace. She is based at NYC’s Virayoga, and is a founding member of Yoga Coalition. Susanna’s artwork is represented in collections such as the UCLA Hammer Museum and the Addison Gallery of American Art. For years, she lectured and wrote for MoMA, and now writes for Elephant Journal. She has been profiled by FIT YOGA magazine, YogaCityNYC, Yoga Radio, and ClaudiaChan.com.