Meet Fred Pusher

I have noticed lately how often people use the word busy or talk about how much they have to do. Busy has almost replaced the word “fine”, when responding to the question, “How are you?” Even my 3-yr-old granddaughter felt compelled to tell me how busy she was, although I wonder if she knows what the word means.

It seems there are high expectations placed on us by both society and ourselves to meet a certain criteria of accomplishments daily.  I am amazed how much of a failure I feel each day that I don’t post, or go on Facebook, or accomplish much of anything.  I keep looking for something to do, even when my body objects.

What does it mean to be busy?  As I explore this word, I have found it helpful to name this part of me.  I call him Fred.  Now Fred is a noble name for a noble character.  I am in awe of his drive and all he has accomplished. He enjoys being attentively engaged in his work.  He is passionate and deeply caring of others and the world.

Unjust laws get changed because people stay engaged for days and years to change them.  Babies get cared for and grow up to thrive because parents are willing to engage days and years into their wellbeing.  Art is created because people spend days and years engaged with their muse to produce something of lasting beauty.  All of these people are busy, but oddly they don’t speak of being busy.  Instead they point to the joy and challenges of the work itself.

But there is another part of me, a part that crosses the line into meaningless activity.  I call this part of me Fred Pusher.  He gets so busy being busy, that checking off his to do list becomes more important than what is on that list.  He forgets how to be comfortable not doing.  He forgets how to be present to life and welcoming of interruptions.

Busy is a driving force of evolution, but it can also be a subtle form of violence.  Although it can masquerade as competence and success, in truth busy often does violence to the earth, others, and our own selves.  Robbed of reflective time and the ability to be fully present to life’s sufferings and joys, busy can become an addictive habit. And like so many things we do in America, it is not sustainable; it becomes something that just looks good on the outside.

So I have decided to throw a retirement party for the part of me I call Fred Pusher.  I hope you will join me.

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How My Practice Evolved After My Osteoporosis Diagnosis

This article written by Deborah Adele first appeared in Yoga Internatiional 7.10.18

After the 2015 publication of my article “Living in Brittle Bones: My Life as a Yoga Teacher With Osteoporosis,”I was greatly surprised by the response I received. It wasn’t just the number of comments or the enormous interest in the topic. What surprised me was some of the content in what has been an avalanche of emails, that even now continue to arrive in my inbox. The majority of these emails have been from yoga teachers or yoga studio owners who are dealing with the same thing—an osteoporosis diagnosis—and who, in some cases, were told by their diagnosing physicians to give up yoga completely. That surprised me.

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Daily Time Outs

I was recently playing with my 3-year-old granddaughter when she got overly excited and broke some rules.  Her mother immediately put her in a 5-minute time out. Upon being released from her time out, she confidently ran back to play with me proclaiming, “Grandma, grandma, I want you to know I am changed; I am a completely different person now!”

Despite her confidence, I have no doubt that my granddaughter will spend many more 5-minute periods in time outs as she grows to adulthood.  Each time will be an invitation for her to remember a different way to be as well as a time to reflect on who she wants to be.

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The Battle for Power

In the beloved story of the Bhagavad-Gita, a corrupt and narcissistic king sits on the throne. He is selfish and greedy with little concern for the welfare of the people he rules. As a result, everything is out of balance and suffering prevails.

Enter Arjuna, our main character. Arjuna is a warrior, and it has fallen to him during these difficult times to lead a battle against the forces of self-interest in order to restore wellbeing to the whole kingdom.

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Ashes & Sackcloth

frost on a plantA study was done at the University of Virginia showing that 67% of men and 25% of women would rather endure an electrical shock than to sit alone is silence. Startling, isn’t it?

The school shooting in Florida is now history, and the nation is buzzing with controversy. The students who survived the massacre are saying, “No more.” The NRA is waving its freedom flag. Our President is suggesting possibly arming the teachers to “solve” the “problem.”

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Dangerous Dreamers of the Day

I have been thinking lately about a quote by T. E. Lawrence, known to many as Lawrence of Arabia. It goes like this: “All men [sic] dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men [sic], for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”

T. E. Lawrence is reminding us that not only does it matter how we choose to act moment to moment, it matters what we can and are willing to imagine with our choices. It matters what we can dream, what we can create in our imaginations. Can we, do we, engage in a rich imagination that can reach into the present and shape the life process?

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It’s hard to miss. Another New Year has called us to social celebration and quiet reflection. We can feel the turning of time and with it the longing for meaningful change. We are in touch with hope, with possibility, and with failure. We are reminded of what might be different or at least a little better in our lives, in our world, in our character. And for most of us, this hope turns into resolutions.

There is much written about how to make resolutions, how to succeed at keeping resolutions, or how to not have any resolutions at all. We forget that there is no right way or even one way to enter the New Year. As much as we read the “how to’s” and the “what’s”, this is OUR life, and we are mortal.

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Surrender (Part 2)

In his poem called Tripping Over Joy, the poet Hafiz gives us much to reflect on regarding surrender. He portrays life as a chess game with the Divine. Most of us, he notes, take playing the game much too seriously. We can feel this seriousness in the rigidity of our shoulders or the tight set of our jaw. We can feel it in a sudden outburst of emotional turbulence. The mystic, he notes, has a very different experience.

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