4.1
August 1, 2018

Why we Need to Waste our Precious Time.

Last night, I wanted to write but I felt blocked.

I felt uninspired by the thoughts in my head and bored with the words I was typing.

I tried to push through my lack of creativity. I wrote the beginnings of several different articles, hoping that at some point something would click, but it didn’t. Nothing felt right.

So, I stopped. I let go.

Instead of forcing myself to barrel through, which I knew would have left me feeling frustrated and unsatisfied, I shut my laptop. I did a little bit of yoga and watched Netflix.

I must admit that not accomplishing everything I’d intended to do made me feel a little bit lazy, and like I’d wasted precious time. But there was another, more prominent, part of me that knew better.

I needed a break.

So many of us seem to be good at putting pressure on ourselves and utterly unable to accept that we will have vulnerable moments. We convince ourselves that there must be something lacking within us if we are unable to meet every expectation we’ve set.

It seems to take an immense amount of focused effort to surrender and slow down. It’s as if we need to work to be able to show ourselves tenderness and self-compassion, because somewhere along the line we decided that we should be above it.

Over the last few days, I’ve been feeling a desperate yearning for slowness and gentleness—a call that’s coming from a place beyond my conscious, thinking mind.

I am emotionally exhausted and tense, and even when I sleep through the night, I wake up feeling tired and fatigued. And, despite taking it relatively easy exercise-wise, I find myself feeling stiff, tight, and sore all over.

I’ve realized that I cannot push my way through this. I need to release the expectations of my mind and move into how I feel. I need to surrender to the part of myself that is imploring for quiet and calm—the silent voice within me pleading for rest. 

Learning how to slow down can be difficult, because we come from a world that emphasizes and prioritizes hard work and achievement, and that can make us feel like we must be in perpetual forward motion.

It takes courage to be soft with ourselves, because it often feels so unfamiliar.

While we will certainly have days where we feel unstoppable, we also need to find a way to allow for the moments when we feel tired and weak.

It is okay to not have it totally together all the time. It is okay to have days where life feels out of control, where we feel lost, and where we know that we cannot possibly do all (or any) of the things we’d originally expected.

It is okay to feel however we feel—we just need to give ourselves permission to feel it.

We can flow more fluidly with life, but we have to be able to shift with the movement, instead of fighting the current. We can live our lives with ease and grace, but we need to release our insistence upon rigidity. 

It’s hard. I know, because I work on it every single day, and it’s something I’ve been practicing for years. I thrive on order and structure and I find comfort in the predictable and the expected. I tend to bind myself to routines and find it difficult to break them. I revel in having control, and it’s difficult for me to relinquish it.

But rigidity, while providing a certain sense of security, is actually quite limiting. It shuts us off from interacting with life in the moment. It blocks us from our feelings and turns us away from our intuition. It prevents us from reacting spontaneously with the inevitable fluctuations of life.

We become disconnected from that part of us that knows in every moment what we truly need.

It is also worth noting that it’s one thing to notice what we need, and something else entirely to make the decision to listen to it, accept it, and then be okay with the fact that we are accepting it. We will often feel the impulse to slow down but force our way through anyway.

Life is about challenge, and growth, and pushing ourselves to be better, but it is also about surrender, and joy, and discovering ways to move through the hard parts with a touch of lightness.

With a bit of self-inquiry and an intention to practice feeling into the moment, we can learn how to discern between the two.

We just need to be willing to try, and then allow whatever we find to be enough.

Last night, I needed rest. Today I needed it too.

I don’t how I’ll feel tomorrow, but I’m open to letting myself figure it out.

~

author: Lisa Erickson

Image: Conner Baker/Unsplash

Editor: Nicole Cameron

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Kim Fields Aug 4, 2018 4:33pm

This is beautiful; thank you so much for writing it. I related to each and every word. My own quest is not about the pursuit of slowing down; I've been able to do that somewhat, with a huge conscious effort. What I am discovering is that with the slowing down, my brain will not release me from the joys of the continual loop it gets stuck in. Thich Nhat Hahn, in his book Silence, calls that Radio Non-Stop-Thinking. It is my own belief that we need to slow down in our lives as a state, country, society; world. My desire to stop allowing my thoughts to loop is kind of the same quest as yours, but for different reasons. Because of the non-stop thinking, I feel that creative block, too, and I feel a bit stymied with next steps. The silence in my home - which normally is so lovely, is right now oppressive. There is nothing to distract me from these continual thoughts, and because my creativity is blocked, I cannot use that as an outlet. I am not sure if it is Pema Chodron or Thich Nhat Hahn (it is probably both) who says that we just need to accept our feelings and emotions as they are. That we cannot accept who we are until we embrace who we are, good and bad; that our feelings are Us, and to not acknowledge them warts and all is to not acknowledge our own basic needs. To me, that means not berating myself for the non-stop-loop, but I seem stuck in the "how" of accomplishing that. Reading your words makes me know that I am not alone, even if our reasons are different.

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Lisa Erickson

Lisa Erickson is a writer, dreamer, thinker, and recovering over-analyzer. She is enchanted by nature, and when she is not trying to string thoughts into cogent sentences, she enjoys spending her time taking long walks, practicing yoga, or binge watching something she’s probably becoming far too emotionally involved in. Follow Lisa on Instagram.