By Lisa Britton, Esq.
How many of you know someone who struggles with extremes? Do you remember the conversation about “that lawyer?” You know who I am talking about, right? The other lawyer, of course. Not you (and certainly not me!).
Okay, I’ll confess. Yes, me. I struggle with extremes. Yup, I admit it. I have a tough time making balance make sense. Not just trying to stand on one leg or do the tree pose, but in life. Working in a profession that rewards extremes makes things even more confusing. If I am extremely worried, then I must be working extremely hard. Right?
What would it be like to eliminate worry…to have a quiet mind…to be present and calm no matter what? Now is the time when I tell you all the benefits of yoga and how yoga can cure your worries, quiet your mind, and make you constantly calm. I wish. Yoga is not a cure-all. It is not a panacea. Yoga does not provide all the answers. If anything, yoga raises questions. Why am I so worried? Why does my mind chatter? Why is it so hard to remain calm?
If yoga raises so many questions, then what good is it? That’s the beauty of yoga. It creates a space to look inside…to observe…to notice what comes up…to feel what is there emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
Yes, yoga promotes physical strength, balance, and flexibility, but it also encourages mental and emotional strength, balance, and flexibility. I love that. Practicing yoga creates a contrast to everyday extremes, so when I start to lose balance, I notice it, even with something as simple as slouching at the computer too long.
One of my beloved yoga teachers has a quote on her studio wall by Anais Nin. It says, "And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." As lawyers, we calculate risks, advise about the risks, and take risks. Perhaps it is a risk to look inside. We might not like what we see; but, if we simply take a moment to look, we just might.
I go through life so franticly trying to please everyone by being “enough.” Yoga helps me to see the frantic people pleasing and the sense of lack for what it truly is: more mind chattering. And, more importantly, what it is not: the true essence of me.
Yoga helps me to become more aware of what is real and what is really nonsense. It is this awareness that causes me to question the worry, to question the inadequacy, to question the chattering mind instead of letting it reign supreme. After practicing yoga for over 15 years, I still don't have all the answers. But, I have learned to love the questions.
Lisa Britton, founder of Practicing Wellness LLC and an attorney in the District of Columbia, teaches Yoga-for-Lawyers. She will be teaching "Yoga for Lawyers," an introductory yoga class that concentrates on giving lawyers tools for relaxation that can be used anywhere, even at a desk. This class is open to all levels. No experience is necessary.