I met a man at a party once and he told me about the speech he’d made at his wedding. He said he’d realised he spoke in public most effectively when he didn’t over-plan what he was going to say, so he just had 5 or 6 important points written down and trusted that he would say the right thing in the moment.

Trust. I loved that and wished I could take that kind of leap. But I know myself - I’m not great at ad libbing and need to have done a certain amount of planning to do a decent job in terms of speaking in front of people or holding space in a room. Still, it made me think about the nature of preparation and where I might be able to trust myself more. When can preparation help us? When can it hinder us from having useful and interesting experiences, i.e. do we miss out on something spontaneous and exciting because we’re too busy sticking to the plan?

As a yoga teacher, if you’re totally wedded to the plan you’ve created, you can end up teaching a class that doesn’t work for the bodies in the room. You teach it just because that’s the one you’re determined to stick to, because you worked so hard on it and it’s all colour coded in your notebook and it’s the class you’re going to teach goddammit.

You also expend a lot of your energy on executing the practicalities of the plan and less energy and time on … well, just being you. And your presence means something. Your ability to be there, in space, in the moment. That’s at least half the reason people are in the room with you.

So spending a good degree of time thinking about how I want to show up, not just preparing the technicalities, is just as important. If I feel calm “in the room” and with a clear intention of the bigger picture – what I want people to get out of being in the room that day, or each time they practice with me – then I feel like I teach better than when I remember the exact sequence, moment by moment.

It’s a bit like spending time with kids – the perfect days out you plan are often less valuable to them than simply you being fully with them. I think my daughter often ends up having more fun playing at home than anything elaborate I’ve prepared for. The simple stuff. My arms, my thoughts. My presence – which can sometimes be the hardest thing to give fully, especially if you have other stuff going on (like trying to get work done, or wash up, or be there for another child).

I’d like to be “in the room” with her, and I know that it’s impossible sometimes, because of other priorities, tiredness or my mind being elsewhere. We’re only human after all, and worrying we’re not present enough shouldn’t be another thing mothers feel guilty about. But maybe the prep vs presence question can help us whether the challenge is parenting or work or relationships or so on. How do we “prepare” or care for ourselves to allow us to be present for other people? Maybe sometimes we can let go of the details or technicalities or fancy frills and trust we’re enough, exactly as we are.
This Saturday! 

 Mothers' reset, two hours for you to come to (without your baby, if you've been coming to my postnatal classes!) for yoga, relaxation and guided writing. It's a space for you to come and relax and restore with some me-time, movement and stillness.

Saturday 22 May, 2-4pm at Crystal Palace Osteopaths
Have a great week,

Chloe xx
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