Anyone else come running into the new year? Life has been nonstop between holiday activities, travel, special projects, and a host of other things. Last week I started a new year’s detox, and I also had a late-night presentation on Ayurveda for a group on the west coast. My body needed a break between the detox and the self-induced jet lag.
Have you ever had your body say, “No more. Today we do nothing.” For me, nothing Friday afternoon became nothing on Saturday became nothing on Sunday, and it was just what the doctor ordered. The weekend was full of quiet time, observing the cats on the patio and inward contemplation. Of course, I still wasn’t feeling right on Monday, and following a COVID test, I realized that the virus had found me, and I’d be doing “nothing” for a while longer.
In the past, my default of the prospect of a forced break would have been frustration. It’s one thing to do nothing for a day or two, but 10 days? Usually, my MO would be to push through. When faced with a forced break, it is easy to let the guilt pile up for everything we should or could be doing. I mean, you can still do things while quarantining. Right? Wrong. Sometimes nothing is everything. Hear me out.
With the knowledge of a few time-honored traditions taken from my yoga and Ayurveda training, instead of seeing gaps or flaws in myself by needing to physically take a break, I looked at things a little differently. Boy what a difference. And, with that in mind, I want to encourage you to do the same – physical illness or not. Our bodies need a break, and in doing so, we can actually be more productive on the back end.
What is there to learn from a gentle reprieve every once in a while? The realization is that everything, even the breaks, is part of the journey, and there is always enough time to get everything done.
We have this innate wisdom within – the ability to know exactly what we need and when we need it if we tune in. In The Clarity Club, I talk about tuning into your Body Compass. Your body is one of the greatest indicators of what you need. It is also the source of a wealth of information when it comes to decisions. Many disciplines talk about us actually having three centers of intelligence in the body. Sometimes they are called energetic centers; others call them wisdom centers. Regardless of what you call them, they each speak to us differently. The centers are the mind, heart, and gut.
In the West, we are biased towards the cognitive center – the mind. Most of us live in our head and only use 1/3 of the wisdom available to us. We are trained to think rationally and logically. It certainly benefits us to be able to analyze and review, and it’s great that we’ve embraced it so passionately, but in doing so, we’ve moved away from our intuition and ability to feel. The other 2/3 of intelligence and wisdom are essentially being wasted. In doing so, we end up having to put so much more effort into accomplishing the things we attempt.
I am trying to remember where I heard it, but someone used the analogy of our bodies being like butlers. They get us dressed; we brush our teeth and comb our hair. Our bodies take us to meetings, and then they just hang out there in the background so our mind can take over. And I thought – that is such an accurate description. We use our bodies for tasks. We push our bodies to accomplish our goals, but we don’t always listen to what our bodies need to help them function optimally long term. It’s not until they don’t cooperate that we finally tune in.
This year my word of the year was, and still is, Unstoppable. I’ve got things to do, places to be, and people to inspire. Anyone else got a list of things that motivate them each day to get up and get going? So, what do you do when your body chimes in and tells you one thing that it needs a break, but your commitments are telling you something completely opposite- go, go, go?
The thing is, everyone has commitments. Commitments we make to ourselves and commitments we make to others. What we commit to really creates the balance, or in some cases, the imbalance in our lives. Commitments can absolutely move us toward our goals. However, when we overcommit, they actually impede our ability to be present and live a life full of well-being. Ah, the whole balance thing. If you still need to download an Invitation to Balance, please visit truebasishealth.com and grab your copy at the bottom of the home page.
You may be saying, I get it, but how do I honor my commitments while honoring my body, mind, and the other wisdom centers that often get placed on the shelf? Three things come to mind instantly. That darn mind…. Always thinking. Essentially it comes down to living the soul intentions. In yoga, we talk about the union of the mind, body, and spirit. So, in that vein, the first intention is:
#1 Joyful, Energetic Body
When your body is the go-to, “the butler of your life”, what can you do to celebrate it and bring it back into focus and balance? The top two things on my list are mindful movement and nutrition. When I think of mindful movement, I think of yoga, but yoga doesn’t have to take 30 minutes to an hour out of your schedule to do a formal studio class. There are several limbs to yoga, one of which is pranayama. The simple practice of Pranayama – or breathwork while doing gentle mindful movement in your home or even at your desk and being aware of sensations in the body is a great start to creating an energetic body.
You know how I told you doing nothing is sometimes everything? I have a T-shirt that says “I’m just here for the savasana”. And sometimes, I take it quite literally. For non-yogis, savasana is a deeply relaxing pose or asana in yoga. It’s also referred to as the corpse pose or as my yoga mentor Claire Diab at the American Yoga Academy calls it, relaxation pose. The pose is practiced by you lying face up on the ground, arms and legs comfortably spread, and your eyes closed. It might look like taking a nap, but honestly, it is a fully conscious pose where you are awake but completely relaxed.
My sister laughed when I told her it was one of my favorite poses. But honestly, it is more challenging than you might suspect. Doing nothing – Surrendering. That skill is everything you need to become more productive when you really need to be. Every time I do Savasana I can mentally hear Claire’s relaxing voice saying “No where to go, nothing to do, just be”. I’m telling you, lie flat, do nothing, there’s a lot to it 😊 She’s got a lot of great yoga videos on YouTube if you are interested and you can just fast forward to the savasana at the end. LOL. Next time your to-do list has you becoming a human doing instead of a human being, try a little savasana.
The other thing about a joyful, energetic body is nutrition. In Ayurveda, the world’s oldest holistic healing system, there is a big emphasis on nutrition and digestive fire. We have to digest everything, from our food to our emotions. When we provide our bodies with the best fuel, it returns the favor many times over. This comes down to eating what we know is in the best service of our bodies.
Colorful, lightly cooked veggies and grains, drinking plenty of water. Nurturing our body one meal at a time. And you noticed I also said we have to digest emotions. Guarding our feelings and honoring our emotions is crucial. In The Restore Roadmap, a course within the Clarity Club membership, there is a module on eating for your specific mind-body type that really homes in on how to support your gut – one of those other less often used wisdom centers.
Ok, so #2 of the soul intentions, Loving Compassionate Heart.
We will talk about the heart a lot in February, but I’ll give you a little preview. Become aware of your emotions. Stay compassionate to what arises. The heart, another wisdom center, can be extremely helpful in guiding your actions. We all want love. And while it’s nice to receive from others, the fact is we can do loving things for ourselves that are in service of our goals. Listening to your body and giving it the attention, it needs for one. Accepting that we don’t need to control every situation. And appreciating our body for what it does daily. All these actions are examples of having a loving and compassionate heart. Turning into our heart and what it wants ultimately helps us accomplish our desires in the end.
I’m sure you saw this third one coming. Another soul intention is #3 having an Alert, Reflective Mind. And what this comes down to is focused awareness. I’ll never forget that during Chopra Meditation Certification, Dr. Deepak Chopra said, ” If you don’t have time to meditate once a day, you should do it twice.” If you are looking for shortcuts, this is as good as it gets, my friends. There is something to be said about doing less to accomplish more. It sounds counterintuitive, but from experience, it does work.
When you are overwhelmed, and chaos and commitments pull you in multiple directions, even taking ten minutes to step back and tune in, or rather yet out, can take you out of your head, out of protocol, and help you reconnect with your other wisdom centers. Doing this literally pauses time and effectively makes you feel like you have more time. It’s the weirdest concept, honestly. An alert, reflective mind could be accomplished through meditation and using a mantra. It could be simply witnessing sensations of your body and getting curious as to what arises. It could be listening to the sound of your breath. Just be aware in the moment. Let time pause. Doing nothing can absolutely be everything.
Lastly, something amazing happens when we practice the soul intentions of a joyful, energetic body, loving, compassionate heart, and alert reflective mind. It is actually the last soul intention. Something you might notice as a result is a lightness of being. Lightness of Being is best felt, living in the moment with no resistance to what is. No anticipation of the future and no regrets of the past. Just being.
It is when doing nothing becomes everything. And in that moment – some people find flow. And with that flow, we accomplish our goals and make our commitments with the energy, joy, and emotion needed. All the while honoring our body, mind, and soul simultaneously.
So until next time, consider doing nothing because in doing so, you might accomplish everything.
This is Micah Hill signing off.