Monday Mantra: Inessential

Last week I taught class themes encouraging students to release what they might recognize as inessential – not necessary – to continue carrying along in body and mind.  Sometimes when deep into the yoga practice, we come face-to-face with something we do not need which we have been holding on to. It can take the form of a concern, a thought pattern, or a habitual judgment.  It can feel like a pang in the heart, a pain in the hip, or a pulsing headache. By freeing ourselves of the space it occupies, we create room to cultivate something we need to grow in its place. There is an exchange.

Mid-week, the word “inessential” took on sharp potency when I read Oliver Sacks’ Op-Ed for the New York Times, My Own Life: Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer.  Mr. Sacks, thinker/writer/neurologist, is dying. An excerpt:

“Over the last few days, I have been able to see my life as from a great altitude, as a sort of landscape, and with a deepening sense of the connection of all its parts. This does not mean I am finished with life.

On the contrary, I feel intensely alive, and I want and hope in the time that remains to deepen my friendships, to say farewell to those I love, to write more, to travel if I have the strength, to achieve new levels of understanding and insight.

This will involve audacity, clarity and plain speaking; trying to straighten my accounts with the world. But there will be time, too, for some fun (and even some silliness, as well).

I feel a sudden clear focus and perspective. There is no time for anything inessential.”

I encourage you to read the full piece. It is honest, heartfelt, simple, and inspiring to those of us who still have time to live on this earth. Mr. Sacks has given us a gift. I am grateful that in the process of his detaching, he found a moment to share this lesson with us as one of his inessential tasks…always teaching by example.

While it might be a futile exercise until the moment we learn of our impending death (perhaps we truly cannot answer until that precise moment), I would like to pose two questions to all of you:

What could you let go of that is inessential to your living? What is essential to your living on which you could place a greater focus now?

– TaraMarie Perri

2 Responses to “Monday Mantra: Inessential”
  1. Marissa says:

    “What could you let go of that is inessential to your living? What is essential to your living on which you could place a greater focus now?”

    These are two great questions that really put life into perspective and make us check our priorities. They’re also two great questions that I probably don’t ask myself enough. This city puts you in a certain mindset that pushes towards the future. I’m constantly thinking about what’s next and what needs to get done so I can move onto the next thing. When I’m in such a busy state I don’t make the time to reflect on how things are actually going. The yoga practice, I’ve come to learn, is so incredibly personal, rich and deep. It’s so wonderful that the yoga practice makes us take time out to be present with ourselves and to ask these things/to check in. It’s no wonder the practice is becoming so popular across America. I just wish people would utilize/realize all of the beneficial aspects of the practice and not just milk it/capitalize it for a few.

  2. Nicholas Jon says:

    These are certainly potent questions, and the answers probably shift from day to day, even from hour to hour. But that’s why it’s important to keep asking yourself — so we can hold onto what we need, and keep shedding the excess that we tend to carry with us: the “inessentials”. At the same time, it is really important to me to have some constants among the things that I find to be essential, things that I can keep coming back to and connecting to and changing my relationship with. For years that has been dance, or movement in general. And now I can safely say that my yoga practice is an absolute essential for day to day living. This is partially because I value physical strength and mental stability, and yoga maintains my dancing body. But I have more recently begun to realize that as yoga becomes more essential, it simultaneously becomes a constant reminder to eliminate the inessentials — something that I would rarely think about if it weren’t for my practice.

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