Slowing down

iamslowingdown.jpg
Photo by Dawn Mikulich, I am slowing down

I’ve been using the above photograph by Dawn Mikulich as the background on my desktop all week. These words, “I am slowing down” have brought me enormous comfort these days. I think they saved my life.

I’m a compulsive do-er. Even as I sit and write this, I have squeezed this task into the few minutes between cooking for a birthday party and going to it. I have a hard time not being productive.

Yoga helps. I breathe, stretch, and allow energy to move through me so it doesn’t get all blocked up. But I rarely just stop. I feel guilty, lazy, unmotivated.

Society has a lot of judgment about taking time off and taking care of yourself. (Words that come to mind are “slacker, spoiled, self-indulgent, unproductive.”) This language keeps the dynamic in place…

A few days ago, I was so stressed out that I had what I call the “hospital fantasy.” This happens when you are so overwhelmed with the doing, the worry, the speed and intensity of life that you just want to get off the ride for a while. I create this twisted fantasy of being in the hospital where I don’t have to DO anything anymore, where people will take care of me, where there will be no expectation about what I produce.
(Note: I am clear this is irrational and the fantasy is not to be taken too literally.)

Nevertheless, I think I’ve created illness this way and clearly don’t want to do that. How many times have you gotten a cold and thought, “My body must be run down. I guess I was doing too much.”

Why can’t we give ourselves the gift of stopping, of slowing down, before we get sick?

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Hi, I’m Andrea

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10 Comments

  1. Jennifer

    I completely understand about the hospital fantasy….been experiencing the same myself for weeks (current day-job way too taxing).
    Instead of roll-over/play-dead I’ve managed to stand up for myself to one of my major external stressors only to find my internal ones trying to take over the space.
    When you are the one soley responsible for your little corner of the world, it’s hard to put it on hold. Maybe we need a permission card to tell us to stop 🙂

  2. christine

    i just wrote about that exact thing last week; i wrote about practicing the art of absolutely nothing. i told all my friends how important it was.
    of course, from the moment i wrote it last week to today i had already forgotten!
    thank you for reminding me. xo.

  3. Kate

    I had to start carving out an hour or more of the day for what I call “deprogramming.” What does it for me is a mug of tea, one of Ani DiFranco’s more relaxing CD’s, and my knitting. I just knit scarves using a basic stitch, and it becomes the type of meditation I can actually do (really sitting down and meditating makes me antsy, but knitting is methodical and calming, without the antsy-ness for me).
    I had to start scheduling in that hour as if it were another appointment. I turned off the phone, the computer, etc., and told friends not to bother me during that time (I said this nicely). The time worked best for me when I scheduled it from 4-5 in the afternoon, because then at 5 I would usually eat dinner and not immediately go running of to the next thing on the to-do list.
    Come to think of it, I’ve kind of gotten away from doing this, and just sitting here I’m getting the itch to do it now… ;o)
    P.S. Yup, I know the hospital fantasty, too…

  4. anissa

    …my doc calls it “burnout syndrome” and is till angry with me, because I haven’t learned how to be good to myself. I guess it lies within what we were expected to be/become like ever since our childhood, be it knowingly or unknowingly (I guess it’s the latter). And yes, society plays a bigger part than we are ready to admit. And it’s such a struggle, and it hurts, it sucks out every nerve…my favourite singer wrote a beautiful song about why there are things we do over and over again, even though they do us no good. But it’s too long to put it in here. Her name is Noa (Achinoam Nini, the Israeli singer). The song is called “Too Painful”, from her CD “Calling”.
    The song reminds me never to give up “learning”, and I wish the same to you!

  5. Rachel

    One needs to make a conscious effort. In other cultures where it’s okay to simply be and to be simply, people learn when they’re children. We have to learn later as acults so that we don’t have heart attacks.
    It’s so hard.
    Good luck!

  6. Jacqueline

    goodness. This sounds like my walking away fantasy. The one where I just put on my tennis shoes grab my bag and head out the door. No keys, no back up credit card, no jacket. Just me and the world. mmmmm…. it is a wonderful fantasy for this on the go mom who is always getting a new idea.

  7. mary

    Remember
    Rest is a Sacred Act!
    Rest is as productive and important as any other activity.
    ~~~
    I learned this slowly after immersing myself in Robyn Posin’s words especially her ‘Rememberings & Celebrations’ card deck. Immerse yourself in her wisdom ~ website http://www.forthelittleonesinside.com and slowly it will seep in.
    rest ~ rest ~ rest ~ pleeeeeese?

  8. Jennifer

    Nothing wrong with down time in my opinion…if you can’t keep the fray out of your own life, you can’t help your friends get the fray out of theirs. I think Kate’s idea of an hour of music and knitting sounds like a terrific idea, though I tend to use the time for music and reading

  9. Dawn

    LOL…I work in a hospital, and trust me, it’s the last place to be if you just want to be left alone and sleep! I recommend the massage fantasy, or the weekend retreat fantasy, or the spa fantasy… 🙂

  10. sara leader

    My mother has a great Zen saying for those occasions when you feel like you have to be on the go all the time.
    “Don’t just do something, sit there.”

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