Less is the New More

Lately I’ve been attempting to talk to my clients about doing less. Ironically, I seem to be triggering the fight or flight reflex  when I suggest resting or doing activities to calm their frazzled nerves. The more I learn about stress, the more certain I am that is the root of much of the pain and discomfort I see in my practice. Yet the mere mention of managing stress or making lifestyle changes to subvert inflammation (a symptom of stress) seems to create more of it!

The inner-detective in me is now on the job. Solving this mystery could benefit most of us. I don’t have the answers yet, but here are some of the questions I’m asking. I’m keeping the inquiry personal, because I can’t answer for anyone else. But I do believe it could be expanded to include any other curious seekers. After all, we share the same basic needs.

  • What would happen if I did less and allowed myself to “just be” more often?
  • Who would I be without my to-do list, my accomplishments, or my aspirations?
  • Why am I so resistant to slowing down?
  • What am I worried about feeling/sensing/thinking if I do slow down?
  • What if I have created my circumstances by thinking that if I do more, I’m a better person?
  • What if my constant striving has led to an unhealthy adrenaline-fueled lifestyle?
  • What if my thinking created the lifestyle, which created the stress, that created the inflammation, that created the pain I experience on a daily basis?
  • Why would I want to continue thinking in the same ways that lead to suffering?
  • Why would I resist retraining my mind to think in newer, healthier ways that support a peaceful lifestyle with less stress?
  • Am I willing to re-examine my values, thoughts, and lifestyle choices to support optimal health and well-being?

My preliminary conclusion is that I often feel stress because society expects me to behave in certain ways that are in conflict with my core values. While my ancestors were dependent on the approval of others for their survival;  I am not. As I get clear about my truth, my unique path in this world, and my soul’s mission; I become painfully aware that catering to the status quo is not only interfering with my sense of self, it is making me ill. As I find the courage to make baby steps to follow my own heart and my own dreams, I feel a sense of empowerment and vitality that is motivating in and of itself.

When it seems like the whole world is swimming against the current, it’s scary to imagine what would happen if I just stop struggling and float with the current. It’s uncomfortable to imagine losing the companionship of all the familiar swimmers around me. It’s upsetting to imagine that I’ve been pushing so hard my entire life to go nowhere I want to go. But what if simply releasing this struggle and facing the discomfort, the unfamiliar, the change of direction is the answer I’ve been searching for but couldn’t see? What if I’m the one creating all the stress and pain in my life?

 

Back to the Basics

Emotions are running high lately. I’m observing various states of distress, confusion, shock, anger, and grief amongst my clients and friends. I’ve experienced all of that myself and have settled mostly into a space of trust, probably because I’ve been treating myself with a steady supply of Reiki. Over the years I have seen what denying, suppressing, identifying with, or numbing emotions can do to a person’s health. I now understand the value of feeling, expressing, and eventually releasing emotions in order to heal. Reiki supports this process. 

I am no good to anyone when I’m reacting from a place of hurt, victimhood, or rage. When I am standing in my power, I am a better advocate for my needs as well as for my clients, my friends and family, my community, and my values. When I am firmly rooted, open-hearted, clear-minded, and connected to Spirit I can best hear the guidance I am offered and able to take action. The most helpful thing I can do for my traumatized country is to first take care of myself- physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually, to prepare for whatever my next assignment is.

If only I knew a self-care expert who could guide the way. Oh wait, that’s me! In this time of turmoil, this is the medicine I have to share. Now more than ever we must listen to the voice within and take good care of ourselves. This means being healthy and vibrant, emotionally balanced, and level-headed. Getting there is indeed a practice. Every morning I set an intention to shine my light, and 1,000 times I am tested, fail, and recalibrate. It is a journey that requires constant course correction. Acts of self-kindness provide comfort along the way and enable me to keep trudging ahead.

I’ve been reviewing my 40 day Self-Care Journey blogs. What a blessing to have enjoyed that experiment and have the rewards available at a time when I need them. We all have different needs so it’s important to know what fills your tank. I humbly offer some suggestions below.

Spiritual Practice, including practices of meditation, forgiveness, and being of service

Release through dance, kundalini yoga, and rebounding

Limit gadgets and screen time 

Affirmations and Gratitude

Take care of your body: chew, dry brush, yoga , hydrate, limit caffeine, get a massage, savor healthy brownies

Boost your Spirit/ Laugh, celebrate, be in nature

Resttake a break, create spaciousness, downtime, PJ time

These are merely my favorites. What really matters is that you find sustainable comfort (think hot bath, not tequila shots!) that works for you, AND that you do it. Repeatedly. Because the world needs us to be in top shape to move forward from here.