August 25, 2011

Exercise Havingness: Stop Shoulding on Yourself.

What do you want?

On the morning after the most amazingly chillaxed day in the history of Ali (I had 4 hours of yoga with Seane Corn and Kathryn Budig the day before at the Hanuman Festival and found myself at dinner afterwards draped in the patio chair at the Corner Bar like a limp noodle – totally parasympathetic, and in public) I woke up at 5 AM to dish up the kitten-viddles and shut off my feline alarm clock. Then I continued the dreamtime chillin’ for another 3 luscious hours while the sunlight filtered in my room with plenty of Sunny-Summer-Saturday-in-Boulder intensity. Farmer’s market? Nah. Cozy bed? Heck yes.

By the time I rose to greet the day vertically, my mind was full of ideas and churning to-do lists of all the great things I could accomplish on this brilliant weekend day. I was stoked because had been waiting for the perfect moment to work on all the projects I wanted to get to all week. I made an idyllic breakfast, sat down at my favorite perch and started tickling the ol’ MacBook.

Towards mid-morning, the flow started to snag on an auxillary list, and I felt my motivation wane from the tingly “hell yeahs!” to slightly grimacing “oh, I should probably do that, and that too.” Before I knew it I was ’shoulding’ all over myself.

What happens when I ’should’ myself? It’s not pretty: it looks like lackluster with a really weak finish and sounds like settling. Inspired motivation churns to a halt because I feel that I must do something that I 1.) don’t want to do, 2.) have little enthusiasm for to begin with, 3.) feel that I have to do something to appease someone or something else. Ultimately, I give up my power by giving up my spontaneous creative agency to say “I don’t want to do that. I want to do [this].”

Where do those voices in my head come from that chirp about what I should be doing? Is it the tired, but deep, conditioning of parents and teachers habitually ingrained since youth? I’m certain these voices don’t serve me anymore, so why do I give these air-time? I’m learning to ignore them and ask them kindly to leave. I want the silence hold the space for me to show up how I want to in the moment.

I met up with a dear mentor-friend at her studio in Denver recently. After dinner and Bhakti Chai with coconut milk (try it!) at Watercourse, we came back to her downtown studio and we talked about this very theme of shoulding on ourselves in our love, life, art and work.

On our way out, she said, “Ah, I don’t know if I’m going to stop by the venue my husband is playing at or just go home.”

“What do you want to do?” I asked. “What does your body want right now?”

“I want to go home and enjoy the quiet house before bed,” she said with a smile. “That’s what I want to do, and that’s what I’m going to do.”

By checking in and being honest about what you really want in the moment, voicing it and doing it, there is great affirmation and clarity in your choice and in your direction. There is no question where you are going, no hesitancy, and the awareness of that momentous present is the best gift you can give yourself  – over and over again.

Begin by asking yourself: What do I want right now? Then, choose to let yourself have it. Your happiness is always there, waiting for you.

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