We’re in the midst of Fall. How quickly everything decays and turns to mud when the rain is incessant. Nature is working the soil, cleaning up and breaking down what is no longer needed. I caught the flu as the weather changed its course. The body needs time to adapt and in my case getting sick is one of the few ways that forces me to stop and take rest. As I am recovering, I have the tendency to push myself too hard too soon. Yesterday, my energy was spent well before the day ended. So I am invited to conserve my energy and take it slower than my mind would have it.
In trying to understand how to notice myself overstretching, I took the time this morning to analyze where things get foggy for me. I started my day quite right, with some journaling and watching the rain create little bogs in the landscape. Then I felt inspired to do some work and got caught in the world of my computer and all that it offers. I worked on building a simple CRM for myself and after a few hours of work I had completely lost touch with my body. I recently learned that hyper-focus is a pitfall of my personality type (INFP-A), forgetting to take breaks and even to eat and drink. Of course this is not sustainable in the long run, at all.
I set the intention to learn how to not overstretch myself in my activities. This feels like a pivotal MIQ that I can only begin to answer here. The first puzzle piece presented itself in a post by Amanda White which I loved. It listed nine types of rest to practice. I took the time to adapt them to my needs.
1. Time away
Travel is one way to step away from the usual grind. No matter how beautiful the space I create for myself to live in, I will always associate it with things to do. It is in my nature. Therefore, taking frequent little holidays visiting friends works for me.
2. Permission to not be helpful
Wanting to help might actually be fuelled by an egoic desire for recognition. Resisting the urge to always jump in when help is needed can also stimulate others to learn how to take care of themselves. I have noticed that we choose our lessons in life, often preventing each other to learn what is needed by trying to take away each other’s suffering. I can only give myself permission to not be helpful with conscious effort, so I believe it is a good practice in moderation.
3. Something unproductive
As long as I don’t fall into the trap of procrastination, this is a good reminder. It means I need to avoid Netflix and other easy fixes, because it drains instead of recharges my energy. For me, being truly ‘unproductive’ means being in a state of pure presence, enjoying whatever is happening around me, without wanting to turn it into something productive.
4. Connection to art and nature
What I preach. Being intimately connected to the natural world recharges me and bringing art into my life nourishes me on a deeper level.
5. Solitude to recharge
I love solitude and I know I need it to do the work I do. But even if the desire to be alone does not come natural, solitude is a good practice. Away from other impulses there is simply more energy to process previous experiences.
6. A break from responsibility
Being self-employed without children, my sense of responsibility is primarily intrinsic. I feel a strong responsibility to be a good steward of our planet and to encourage others to be good stewards as well. I am certainly tough enough on myself in that regard, so this would mean making an agreement with myself to take a break from responsibility, which is not always easy.
7. Stillness to decompress
I find it hard to be still without being focused on my own spiritual practice. Ironically, this is the ultimate aim of my spiritual practice. It still puzzles me from time to time. One of my teachers once said: rest in the question mark, which I find to be excellent advice.
8. Safe space
I cannot rest if my basic needs are not met. What a luxury to be warm, dry, fed and in good health! I count my blessings and keep my home tidy and inviting for myself, so that I can feel safe enough to let go.
9. Alone time at home
This is a luxury I have plenty of, because I know this alone time is crucial for me to stay in alignment. I very easily take on the shape and color of others, but everyone is different. I know many people who recharge in the presence of others. Still, some hermit time can be beneficial to rediscover our own dreams, wishes and desires. And to rest, of course.
In general, I wake up with a million ideas I would like to work on, so boredom is non-existent in my life. This is great, but the endless stream of inspiration also pulls me away from the appreciation of my current state of affairs. There is such a richness to be discovered in the present moment.
Stepping off my train of thought is a challenge. I once heard about the idea to stop your work mid-sentence when something else calls your attention. In this way, there will always be a little hook to grab onto and continue whatever you were doing later. Picking things up where you left off might be easier, but for me the question remains how to stop in time. I have not found a way yet to make this motivation purely intrinsic. Up to now, taking rest seems to be a matter of discipline.
As the Winter approaches, perhaps nature will take care of this problem, as most problems are easily fixed by surrendering to to the flow of life. How do you make sure you get enough rest? Would love to hear your thoughts!
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