Do you find that the only way you can slow down is by getting sick? Are you pushing yourself so hard, to the edge of your limits, that it takes illness for you to relax or commit to relaxing? You may be saying to yourself, “Why no, I have no idea what you mean?...” Liar or should I say Liars! I’m pretty sure that I know at least five people who will read this statement and to whom it is completely applicable, myself included.
I mean, seriously, I had to get really sick and be handed a veritable fact of a diagnosis (twice) to be like, “Okay, so I guess I’ve actually got to slow down a bit”. Duh.
Why does the thought of not doing something kind of freak us out (or at least some of us)? I really like to blame it on the highly, device-connected society that we’ve become and the idea that you always have to rush, rush, rush, doing more and quicker than before...kind of an irony then that you’re reading this online...but moving on...So while in my yoga classes I’ve strived to teach students to slow down the “monkey mind” and allow themselves to relax and let go in their final savasana, if not beforehand, I was not necessarily practicing what I preached. Wanting to help others find more balance and peace in their own hectic schedules, I managed to continue to push myself through the grind of both a physically and mentally taxing schedule, working towards a specific, personally appointed deadline. I confess, I was leading a double-life at times, one on and off the mat. But, I kept doing it, right up until there was undeniable proof that I had to stop. Even the often shared article, The ‘Busy’ Trap, while much appreciated didn’t seem to abate my fervor. Why? Because as I’ve said before, I’m a planner. I had this master timeline that I was following and I was just focused on running, trudging, or dragging myself to meet it. Oops.
It’s kind of like Karma, or fate, that to proclaim the virtues of slowing down and taking time to simply be, I had to have it forced upon me. I’m essentially living the dream of a permanent time off, so why did the thought of not “doing” something totally freak me out? Because no matter how rationally I talk myself through the benefits of rest and this period to figure things out, I still have this little (or loud depending on the day), deeply imbedded voice of guilt that says, “I’m wasting my time”. So what to do, do I create work to rid myself of this guilt or do I fight back? Well, I kind of do both. I like to call my activities "work", which in reality or monetary means they do not quantify as, and to also formally impose rest upon myself. I like to pretend that I’ll actually wake up for my silly early alarms, when in fact, I’m more than likely to snooze twice or turn them off. When I do indeed have to wake up really early to get to the hospital, I do, but why falsely believe that I need to on an off-day? Because, in some sense, it just makes me feel better. And really, isn’t that part of the healing process, too? Working to feel better about myself, the massive transition that my life has taken over the last few months, if not 2013, as a whole? So in addition to asking myself, “What do I need to do today?”, I also ask, “What is important?” and hopefully those two questions coincide and converge. As I’m finding, they frequently do when I’m allowing myself adequate time to be free to think, journal, and meditate, activities that in the past might have sadly been truncated.
So please, if not for your own health then as a favor to me (wink, wink!), take a little time out of your day (morning, noon, or night) to ask yourself, “What is really important?”. Ask the question and then write down the response. Then close your eyes (because you are sitting down in a chair and NOT multi-tasking), take a few breaths (deeply, if you can) and ask again. Did it change any, become more developed? If you have the time and/or patience, explore it, maybe even meditate on it. If you’ve never stopped to question the “doing” and instead of simply followed a course, trust me, it’s a totally worthy effort.