Acts of forgiveness and kindness and acceptance and compassion can’t be measured. There’s no conversion rate, no return on investment and no reliable metric to prove that our emotional efforts were a prudent use of our time.
But that’s actually a good sign. Quite literally, in fact. Einstein famously had a sign in office that displayed the following phrase.
Not everything that matters can be measured, and not everything that is measured matters.
A perfect mantra for the hard work of training the heart. Where we trust that every act of love pays a dividend. Where we trust that every meditative effort brings us one step closer to joy. Even if we can’t measure the progress, we shall not labor in vain.
Yoga has become my favorite venue for doing this work. Every day when I practice, inevitably, my body falls out of posture. Dozens and dozens of time. But instead of rolling my eyes and shaking my head and cursing under my breath about what a clumsy doughboy I am, the braver response is to laugh it off and feel proud of my effort and hop back in to try it again.
You might say that’s forgiveness and kindness and acceptance and compassion, ahem, rolled up into one, if you’ll permit some corny yoga mat humor.
Bikram likes to say, falling out of a posture means you are human, but getting back into the posture means you are a yogi. That’s the real yoga. Both inside and outside of the studio. Acting towards ourselves with love. Reminding ourselves of all the benefits that will come. And trusting that our efforts are paying dividends.
Because even if they can’t be measured, they still matter.
What will convince you that you’re not laboring in vain?
Scott Ginsberg is a writer, daily practitioner and work study volunteer at Bikram Yoga Park Slope.