I heard this question posed in my favorite podcast (The Liberated Body), and Love it.
Moving past a Momentum addiction has been a truly trying practice for me.
Momentum comes in the physical sense when pushing myself through a run, a job, or a yoga sequence. Often times I watch students using momentum to get from one pose to the next, rather than engaging with the muscles that aid the transition. (This is particularly the case when moving from 3-legged dog into a lunge.)
Momentum also comes into play in the emotional sense. We rush conversations, we interrupt conversations, and we end them early. I have noticed emotional momentum in particular lately, where if I feel good I will run around and do 100 things, for fear of feeling ill in the future. I have also noticed emotional momentum in friends, particularly a friend avoiding a heartbreaking yet imminent conversation. This friend busied themselves with activity after activity, thought after thought, because they couldn’t face the heartbreak at the base of it all.
Why am I rushing this conversation? What am I trying to avoid feeling, and how does it make me act?
I use emotional momentum in social situations all the time, particularly with my family. It is my grist for the mill. I want my siblings to remember me as the fun and loving sister, and will run around whisking them off from activity to activity. Why? Where does it leave me? Where does it leave them? Where do we go from here? What might happen if I slowed down?
What might happen if we all slow down?
Slowing down is not encouraged by our culture. Its stepsister speeding up is the golden child of current times in America. In startup culture, we are taught to scale fast or fail fast, to iterate and iterate, to get it done and quick. But what are we missing when we live with momentum? What are we avoiding?
The yoga mat is a beauteous place to find an answer.
My personal asana practice lately has been delighting in each moment of each movement— in the transitions as much as the poses, in each arm movement, in the movement of my face into a smile. In slowing my practice down, I find there is less tension in my body. I find there is more space in my mind. I find that the yoga “sticks” with me longer off of my mat. I find quality. I find strength. I find grace.
And in doing so, I find emotional momentum subsiding as well.
Try it for yourself. Let me know how it goes!