Rest without Remorse
Despite being told a thousand times that I deserve to rest and recharge, I often feel a lot of guilt over taking downtime when I have a lot to do. Like many of us, I have an an unspoken, pervasive core belief that I should always be doing SOMETHING productive, whether it is cleaning the house or working on a project. No matter how much self reflection I have engaged in, I tell myself that I can relax when everything is done, but the problem is, there is always something to do.
I often need to be reminded that I am a human BEing and not a human DOing. I have learned that some days, I just need to recharge, alone with my own weary soul. And sometimes with my dog, who seems to just get it.
Yesterday was one of those days. I was feeling some uncomfortable, residual emotions from the third anniversary of my father’s death. Also, a friend had called me crying; her childhood friend had passed away unexpectedly. I am grateful that I was able to comfort her despite my extreme burn out. I didn’t do dishes or laundry. I didn’t work on projects. I worked on a T shirt design for my leadership program, but that was all the creative energy I could muster. I watched a bunch of terrible reruns and attempted not to comfort eat.
I tried to allow myself some veg out time and then gently talk myself into making headway on the deliverables I created for myself. But my soul kinda looked at me like Eeyore, and sighed sorrowfully.
“Good morning, Pooh Bear,” said Eeyore gloomily. “If it IS a good morning,” he said. “Which I doubt,” said he.
So I cuddled with my silly Lily and continued to hate watch terrible episodes of Felicity season 1 in rapid, voracious succession as some kind of perverse punishment. I tried to make a healthy 3 ingredient mug cake but it tasted like dirt from a dog park. I then made a non-healthy one that was only ok. I went down to the vending machine at 2 in the morning, when I knew I should have gone to bed instead. When it gave me two Hershey bars for the price of one, I unapologetically polished off both.
When it seemed like nothing would fill the gaping void, I remembered one of my favorite meditations by Sarah Blondin. It is called LEARNING TO HONOUR OUR RYTHMS AND CYCLES, and it is all about letting ourselves rest without beating ourselves up. It gave me the permission I needed to just BE . . . so I did. I sat with the discomfort, without judgement. I intentionally had compassion for myself. I wrote about my father, washed my hair, let myself sleep.
All life needs rest, and incubation . . . . Just as you can not force flowers to continually bloom, the same is true for all human beings.
Today my energy reserves are not at 100%, but they are no longer depleted and I don’t feel a compulsive need to bingewatch awful TV or inhale refined sugars. I washed some dishes and started some laundry. I wrote a gratitude list and spoke with my grieving friend, (who sounds much better). I ate a delicious salad with tuna, hummus, and mashed avocado, and blended up a healthy, tasty smoothie that I am legitimately still fantasizing about! Lily and I had some great playtime and she is snoozing like an adorable nugget by my feet. I wrote morning pages and felt called to write this post as a result. My apartment is warm and quiet, and I am grateful.
It always amazes me how much more efficiently I can recharge when I am not wasting energy flogging myself like a slavedriver. It is my hope that one day I will remember that insight on a more permanent basis. ;P
Blondin has a soothing voice and poetic prose, her meditation recordings are moving, nourishing, kind, and revitalizing. She has many, but not nearly enough, soothing pieces on her Youtube channel and on Insight Timer.