Do you feel behind even before you’ve made your morning coffee? From the To Do list at work to the To Do list on your fridge, there are endless ways you “should” be spending your time. It’s in these everyday tasks, habits, and self-talk that you risk losing sight of your nimble, guided self. It’s preconceived ideas about what we “should” be doing that prevent us from listening to our hearts in any given moment. Stop this well-intentioned discipline in its tracks. Set down the laundry or report, even for a minute. Become vulnerable and present to your present life. Your deep self wants to offer you a solution. Do you want to listen?
WHAT DOES “BEING RESPONSIBLE” MEAN, ANYWAY?
A Course in Miracles teaches, “The miracle comes quietly into the mind that stops an instant and is still.” You might think you’re just being “responsible.” But you have a higher responsibility to listen to the part of you that honors the higher promise of your life. Why would any of us choose a routine instead of a miracle? We don’t always realize what we’re not getting done by “getting things done.” This is the key to understanding overwhelm and burnout.
One day in the middle of a busy month of a busy year of a busy lifetime, I decided to give myself a mini-retreat on the plump sofa of my back porch. Actually, I’d hurt my neck. And the pain was distracting me from answering e-mails. It was bad. You could say it was a pain in the neck. So, I resolved to put aside my tasks and spend the day listening to my body and myself. Immediately I heard a perky voice within dictating glamorous, acceptable ways to relax. Maybe you should go get a hot stone massage. Hey, you could read that new book. Since you’re not working today, why not organize your meditation space? I was horrified to see that even in the domain of self-care, I had a brisk checklist waiting to devour me
MY SELF-CARE PRESCRIPTION
I spent the day in my favorite ratty T-shirt instead, resting on my couch, “doing nothing,” meditating by not even trying to meditate, just being and receiving cues from a tired and pained body. It was one of the most productive days I’d had in a while. I didn’t meet with friends. And I didn’t watch television or listen to an audiobook. I met the silence, big as a bear. It held me. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d given myself space to just be. I allowed myself to be bored and awkward at times, like I was on a really bad date, the kind where you’re maybe hoping for a tiny stroke so you can leave—but I wasn’t bailing and calling a cab. I remembered again, in tiny bursts of raw self-acceptance, this is what my soul needs to experience, and it’s not on any to-do list.
In rebellious chunky penmanship, I wrote in my journal:
“I am not going to answer e-mails today or get back to clients. I want to know, witness, and love myself.”
This day of self-care will get more ‘done’ in my life. Because I may not know everything I want to experience in this one mad life of mine, or what I want to be remembered for, but I do know it isn’t this: She always got back to people within a day. And with such excellent grammar!
I was done with work burnout and spinning my wheels. I was experimenting with taking a spontaneous day off: off-line, off-limits, and off my own back. That day, “doing nothing,” I ended up journaling, resting the cells in my body, forgiving myself for forgetting myself in any way, cradling a part of me who’d suffered disappointments, and not pushing myself to do or be anything.
THE INTOXICATING LACK OF SELF-JUDGMENT
And when I least expected it, another part of my mind woke up. It felt like the stone had been rolled away from the gate. In the quiet, self-love and creative ideas deluged my mind. I couldn’t write fast enough. I chased the bursts of illumination and ideas that flew at me like a pack of butterflies, and forced my “practical” mind to take a backseat. Then, later, I even wrote the newsletter for my business, the main task that I’d set aside that day. It was suddenly easy. Work that would have taken me hours only took minutes and came out better. No, I was not on drugs. But the lack of self-judgment is intoxicating. And if I could bottle this mystical superpower I would.
Don’t pressure yourself, just BE yourself.
Why not try it yourself: take a spontaneous day off (ok, even an afternoon will do) and see what happens. Experiment. Adventure. Your creative ideas await.