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?