“Mind the gap” was the theme of the John Friend yoga workshop I attended a couple weeks ago. The message is that what happens between, is what’s important. Between inhaling and exhaling. Between the busy-ness and the being-ness. Between the effort and the letting go. The subways in London warn you to “Mind the Gap.” In NYC, you are to “Watch the Gap.” Not nearly as poetic, nor as relevant.
Watching implies seeing, but if you mind something, you do more than just see it. You pay attention. You listen. You ponder what it means. You take responsibility. You mind the children. You mind your parents. The dictionary says you “regard as important and worthy of attention.” That’s exactly what Friend had in mind at “Dancing with the Divine.”
I’ve been practicing yoga at Shakti Yoga Shop for nearly two years. It is an Anusara shop, and John Friend is the founder of this particular branch of yoga. His visit to Iowa was a chance to learn from the guru. I went with a certain cynicism. My expectations were low, but he was amazing, and far exceeded those expectations.
Friend has a quirky sense of humor, and a depth of knowledge about a broad range of astrophysics to zoology. One of the funniest bits was when he gave us a physical demonstration of how humans are the only critters with shoulder muscles. The message was clear. We’ve got them so we need to develop them. He talked quite a bit about what we do with our bodies has a nearly immediate effect on evolution. Our genes remember our behavior.
On that Saturday afternoon, Friend talked about the increasing weight of the self-help book section addressing mindfulness. It’s a good thing, but these books usually focus on minding what you are doing or what’s happening. If you’re minding the gap, you’re paying attention to what’s not happening. On the resting. On the being, not just the doing.
Friday morning when I called my mentor, I was in a dither. The condition of the house was interfering with my serenity in a big way. She told me “go outside. Not to do something, not to make a list of what you need to do, just to be.”
I sat down in my hammock, with my phone still to my ear, and immediately felt the weight lift. Pat said she felt tears come to her eyes, hearing the relief in my voice. I minded the gap. First I had to create it. Then I paid attention to it. I lay down and looked up at the bright blue gap between the Locust and Pin Oak trees above me. And I minded it.
Afterwards I was able to return to the busy-ness of the day, to put things away, organize the house. And I was able to find some more gaps and mind them too.