The Gift of the Drought

Our culture is extremely focused on producing results. Of course in many ways this is important. When we do something, we experience a result. The only way to get to where we want to go is by taking necessary action. However, to me, there seems to be an over-emphasis on doing in our culture. I believe, this contributes to a state of imbalance within us.

More than ever, many of us are ridiculously busy. We're constantly doing, trying to fit in all of our activities, trying to manage the to dos of our families, the needs of our households, the competing demands and deadlines in the workplace. We strive to get it all done. We take on more than we can handle, yet, we continue to value this state of doing, often at the expense of not doing and being, even when the latter could be more helpful.

Our habit of doing is so deeply rooted, we learn to be this way from the beginning. Our need for visible and sometimes immediate evidence of results is so ingrained that when it is not satisfied we experience distress and unease.

Recently, after a solid year of feeling a steady stream of growth and productivity in my coaching business I experienced what I referred to as a drought. All of a sudden I found myself with space in my client schedule and without clients. I had the thought that I should be doing more to promote my business. I had some good ideas about what I could do, all great possibilities for business development.  But, what I really wanted to do was rest, yoga, deep breathing, silence, meditation, and walks in the woods.

My mind said "do more" and my body said, "nah, don't feel like it."

This inner conflict fed a lot of self criticism:

  • "You're just being lazy."
  • "Look at how successful so and so is with what they're doing. Do something."
  • "Get off your ass and do something!"

I slowly began to retreat more into myself and isolate - this is what I do when I'm feeling distressed or uneasy.

Until, I started to recognize that the drought was actually a gift.

Having space in my schedule actually afforded me the time and space to do those things that I was actually longing for.

I started to do yoga, regularly, for the first time in two years. It felt delicious!

I spent more time in silence: meditating, reading books, journaling, resting and digesting activities and ideas of the pasts months.

I began to feel more relaxed. I began to practice being, not doing.

And then, one day, I felt the drought was beginning to shift into something else. I wasn't feeling the unease and discomfort anymore. I was ok with exactly what was happening.

And then, a client signed up, and then another, and then another.

In all of life, there are natural cycles that include ebbs and flows. Penney Peirce writes in Frequency how during the flow phase it feels easy and effortless for us. We express our creations in form and they get out into the world. Eventually a flow phase leads to an ebb phase. During ebbs, we integrate our experiences. We rest, we take stock. Insights begin to arise and we gradually begin to generate ideas based on our previous experiences.  Our ebbs naturally lead us to flows, which naturally lead to ebbs, then flows, over and over. This cycle continue throughout the course of our lives, and if we look, we can see evidence of this.

So my question to you is:

When have you found yourself in a drought? And, what gifts have your drought revealed to you?

The drought is a gift. Take it. Take it while it lasts, and see the gifts that are revealed to you. The gifts will only be revealed if you take them.

Notice how easy it can be. The cycles of change shift without even trying.  Go with it. Let go of what's holding you back.