a spark

It seems strangely fitting to talk about taking a break, even from the things you love most, on Valentine’s Day.

In her book Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel sums up the need for space in relationships in three words: Fire needs air.

Of course, she’s talking about making room for the spark of sexual chemistry and attraction and eroticism. But it can be applied more broadly to the spectrum of relationships in our lives—with our families, with our vocations, with our homes and hobbies. Are we leaving room for the spark of passion, creativity, interest, and curiosity?

This is part of what my sabbatical has been about: taking a month off of teaching yoga to make space for that spark.

Here’s what I thought would happen: I’d retreat from teaching and intensify my own practice time as well as study of asana and philosophy.

Here’s what actually happened: I’ve barely been on a mat (twice, to be specific), and while I am enjoying Poser, I’m not reading much of anything. Ok, fine. I have a stack of People Magazines that I’m savoring like a box of fine chocolates — one trashy, unenlightened page at a time.

For the past two weeks (or more) there has not been any pull toward formal practice. Typically I would call on the power of Tapas, or discipline, and take myself sheepishly to the mat. And that’s valid. It’s certainly one way. Another way to is attune to my compass and follow its guide, which is very happy to take a step back. When I touch in with the question is this avoidance or is it wisdom, it feels like 92% wisdom.

When nothing works, do nothing.

Today, exactly halfway through the month (seriously, next year I’m picking a month with 31 days), I’m starting to feel gentle nudges toward the shape of a pose, or my giant yoga book cabinet. Like we’ve taken a break and now we’ll begin to get to know one another again.

Equally grateful for the break and for the flicker of spark, I am happy to be reminded that all types of relationships need room. As Esther Perel says, when two become one, there’s no “other person” to want.


Is there a relationship in your life (with your job, a friend, a lover) whose fire could use a little air? How do you know when you need some space? How do you distinguish avoidance and fear from need and intuition?


p.s. This topic rings eerily true to the vibe of my new, forthcoming site, Love Wasting Time. Soon, soon! Stay in the loop by signing up for love notes.

p.s.s. Happy Valentine’s Day!


5 Responses to “a spark”

  1. 1 Madeleine February 14, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    Yeeeeeee! So excited for love wasting time.

  2. 3 Elizabeth February 15, 2011 at 4:30 am

    I treat myself to a People (or similar) when I fly. I savor every page.

    This seems like a good description of my relationship with my business. I am experimenting with flow at the moment, and the thing that I am thinking is that I avoid business-y stuff unless it’s critical because I don’t let myself do the things that are necessary and nourishing. I am giving myself space to follow my inspiration, even if it isn’t leading me in a direction I think I “should” be going, and I am finding that I am doing more. Possibly inarticulate and not the same at all, but it’s what came to mind.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying your sabbatical!

  3. 4 Tracy February 15, 2011 at 2:45 pm

    Very interesting musings today, Michelle… and very exciting news about about your new site–can’t wait to see! My creative life needs some new sparks. I find myself wanting to dip into to many types of creative expression, my interest are many, and time is only so much. So I’m at a place where I’m trying to be quiet and listening to where my heart really needs me to be going, what I need to be doing right now. Not easy when I do like dabbling in many things for the thrill of variety and how each feeds off the other. But I am sensing I need to focus more on something specific. I’m using my practice as a guide and chakra alignment to help. We’ll see where the sparks take me. ;o) Happy Valentine’s ((HUGS))

  4. 5 Diane February 15, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    I’m thinking you just may need a break in Feb. And while you are always preparing for your classes other months and yearning for time to envelop yourself in your own practice and read all that that has been waiting for you….you may just need at time for “hanging out” without a schedule or a list of todos….even if that whole list might be termed “hanging out” in say August. xo

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