When the Love-Soup Runs Dry: How to Practice When We Really Don’t Want To.

Via on Oct 3, 2013
Photo: Ginnerobot on Flickr.
Photo: Ginnerobot on Flickr.

Passion: it’s great.

Whatever that passion is, if it ignites fire within—we have an obligation to say yes!  to that. If it brings us joy (and I’m not talking about excitement or validation or the feeling of belongingness or pride or any other words we use to equate with joy, I’m talking about pure, quiet-smile, unfettered joy—the kind of joy that leaves you with the feeling that there is nothing left to do, all work is finished), we have to walk right into that.

Sometimes we feel as if we need to bring inspiration to passion.

In the context of a yoga practice, we have all these things we need to bring to the mat—philosophy, intention and physical goals. We have all these pieces of inspiration—safeguards—that we bring to our mat to help us through our practice, lest our passion begin to crumble in front of us. We look all around for that inspiration—for that love-soup, and incorporate it vigilantly.

Heaven forbid we practice without reason.

But what happens when the inspiration runs out? When we haven’t done our homework and we don’t have a new piece of inspiration to work from? What happens when that love-soup dries out?

Because there are days, sometimes weeks, sometimes months—or, good God, sometimes years—where we look down into our bowl of once-thick love-soup and find ourselves bone dry.

And although we know we should just power through it—bust out the sports bra and begrudgingly unfurl the mat, or pull out the meditation cushion and do some mantra-work, or dust off some Eckhart Tolle and schedule a book club—making that decision is not even an option for little-old us.

Our brain, without consent from any other part of ourselves, executive-decisions its way into thought-mode:

“What’s the point of all of this?” “Stop kidding yourself: you’re going to quit doing yoga one day, so you may as well make that day today.” “It’s too hot/rainy/traffic-y/humid/horrible outside.”

And then our brain does this other genius thing: it agrees with itself.

“Yeah—you’re right! Let’s stay in and watch a fourteenth episode of How I Met Your Mother. You’re so smart, brain.”

Hold on…

There’s got to be some trick to this. Love-soup is great, but it runs out. As long as it’s in my bowl, I’ll be spiritually-saddled and ready for anything.

But I want to be spiritually-saddled and ready for anything when my love-soup bowl is empty.

That’s why I started this yoga thing to begin with.

I’m not here to just practice when I feel like practicing. I’m here to practice especially when I don’t feel like practicing.

And even though those times are not the most enjoyable times to practice—when I’m dragging and collapsing and becoming a hot-distracted-mess contained between four small corners of mat-space–they are the most important.

They are the most important because that’s where my work really is.

But the trick is even getting to the mat in the first place.

So my first thing is to slow it all down.

Slow down the thoughts, because when the thoughts start slowing down, they start crooning in their subtle, ambient elevator-music kind of way; and they start sounding real molasses-y and feeling all warm and gooey.

There’s a start. Because those other thoughts that keep me out of my practice because I have no more love-soup make me feel…well, they make me feel like shit. But these thoughts, these warm and gooey, straight out of the oven chocolate-chip cookie thoughts make me feel really good.

The syrupy thoughts sound a little more like this:

“Hey, girl: leave the love-soup out of it. Set the inspiration aside. Just show up and practice. Let’s repeat that together: Just show up and practice.”

Because when I show up to my passion and I go to take a big ol’ mouthful of that love-soup just to realize I’ve forgotten to fill my bowl today and there is no love-soup left, I become disheartened. I become judgmental. I become inadequate.

And that’s not my job. My job as a passionate person, as a yogi or as an artist or as a reader or as a thinker or as a musician or as whatever I may be—my only job is just to show up and practice.

Show up and pay attention. That’s what it all comes down to. My only job—ever—is to do just those two things.

“Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it (whatever that might be)—if your job is to dance, then do your dance. If the divine, cock-eyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed for just one moment through your efforts, then ole’. And if not, do your dance anyhow, and ole’ to you nonetheless, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.” ~ Liz Gilbert

Pay twice as much attention, enjoy life twice as much.

Thanks for running dry, love-soup.

Like elephant yoga on Facebook.

Ed: Cat Beekmans

About Brentan Schellenbach

Brentan Schellenbach is a Chicago based yoga teacher and writer. She co-owns Fermata Yoga Center (FYC), a yoga studio based in the center of Chicago's Lincoln Park neighborhood. Through her work with writing, yoga and meditation, she is looking to promote the good-feeling of herself and the good-feeling of others. For writings and personal information, visit: BrentanSchellenbach.com For FYC, visit: FermataYoga.com

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