I'm restored. What now?
Hey Friends! It’s been a while. I’ve been pretty lax with sending out this newsletter, and that has been intentional. For quite a while now, I’ve been practicing doing less and it has been oh so helpful. This morning I happened upon this NY Times article that touts the benefits of doing less. Evidence! I love when my personal experiments are backed up by research and/or expert advice :).
I REALLY needed the hiatus. I was beat. I was slogging through the days with low energy. I felt depressed, listless and flat. Not much was exciting, life was a blur. It was at the start of last Summer that I made a conscious effort to do things that fed my heart and mind, and much of that involved doing practically nothing. I scheduled time to literally stare into the sky, smell the fragrant scent of earth or feel the warm sun. These not-doings were astonishingly MORE than enough. They were medicine. It was a real shift for me that included making skillful, thoughtful, repeated (non) efforts to not fill my schedule with all the things I usually feel a need to do, and it was incredibly revealing. It turned out that I didn’t really NEED to do what I thought I did most of the time. Even including household chores and obligations that often plague my mind (because they need to get done!). It turns out that it was perfectly ok to leave a load of laundry sitting in the dryer for four days. Nothing falls apart! It wasn’t at all a problem for my son to go to sleep without brushing his teeth or washing his face every once in a while. If I didn’t go food shopping on the usual day...not a big deal. We ate what we had. It was even completely not an issue to fall asleep in my clothes watching tv. And, to wear those same clothes the next day! I did that, more than once. No one batted an eye. I also changed plans, sometimes backing out of regular commitments. What a rebel I am! I luxuriated in the art and play of slacking. I did less, and lived more.
Slacking actually became a fun practice that included hints of rebellion. As I came upon my in-the-moment realizations of it all being ok to not hold it all together, part of me reveled in not-giving-a-rats-ass about the usual things that are often prominent on my to do list and in my mind. It was LIBERATING! It liberated my mind from the stronghold of thoughts like (“If I don’t do _________ then it will be a problem”), and it also liberated my energy. Over the course of many months, I began to feel more alive. I felt less depressed, more like the free-spirit younger version of myself that hasn’t gotten out in a while. I had more of my life force energy available to me.
This is where I find myself now. It’s Spring, everything is coming alive, and so am I. I have energy that wants to move in ways I’m not even sure of. I just signed up for a 5k run for goodnesssakes, a commitment to run that I haven't made in years. Have you ever experienced this?
So now I’m restored. What now? Now, I follow the energy. Actually, this is exactly what I did at the onset of last Summer when I felt listless and flat. I followed the lead of my energy. Below are some steps if you want to give this a try.
Stop and turn your attention inward. This can be challenging for habitual doers like myself. It requires a conscious, active process of stopping the momentum of doing and noticing when you have arrived in the here and now. It can take some time, so be patient with it.
Notice what it feels like in your body. If it’s helpful, write down all of the sensations, however and wherever they arise. For example, right now for me it feels like this: a little tingly, a slightly inflated feeling in my chest, neck and shoulders, I feel where my lower legs are crossed at the shins while I’m typing this, there’s some mild tension in my jaw. Note every single sensation that you land upon.
Next, hone in on the more subtle sensation of energy in your body and see if and how it wants to move. Does it want to settle on a lounge chair with a novel? Does it want to do jumping jacks? Does it want to spread out in a wide open field? Often, if not always, it surprisingly will share very specific wants. It can be very amusing.
Lastly, do the thing that it wants to do. Last summer, I longed to be in wide open spaces. And I’ll tell you, when I began to bring that kind of experience more into my life, it was the definitive medicine I was longing for. It was magical. Your body does not lie.
Reveling in an energy reclamation,