It All Counts (On Softening, Trust and Gratitude)

  I’m proud of myself that I started my day with answering a few emails, and then immediately jumping onto my mat and doing an hour of stretching/yoga.

It felt good to spend time with my body again, even if my mind was wandering most of the time.

It will come.

Towards the end, when I was doing some simple sun salutations, I was filled with gratitude and chose to practice some self-forgiveness.

I’ve been so hard on myself in the last few years,  keeping myself in a holding belt of constant self-judgment, criticism, and bullshit that led to self-doubt, sticky stuckness, and the inability to trust myself.

And then beating myself up for not being able to move past all this, on top of it.

[Note: yes, even I, get into loops of stuckness and paralysis born out of self-punishing thoughts. It’s time I shed the layers of shame about it, and show up as I am: human.]

I felt myself soften today.

Felt so much gratitude for just being alive. For this experience and all the experiences I’ve had in this life, the good and the bad.

Even if the bad are not completely resolved and I don’t know if they will be.

I’m grateful to be alive.

And I guess it doesn’t much matter what I do with this life as much as it matters that I live it and that I’m alive.

It all counts.

It’s all experience.

I feel softer, slightly, towards myself.

The choices I’ve made have brought me to this moment, and this moment, feeling this gratitude filling every corner of my being, is precious.

I want to cry but the tears aren’t coming yet.

All in due time.

I know my undoing is coming, and it’s coming softly.

Unravel. Unfold. Unfurl.

The chrysalis comes to mind. That mush that isn’t formed, which will become a butterfly but has no shape yet.

In this place, I trust.

  

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Harnessing the Power of the New Moon

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Honoring the regenerative space is key.

 

So often in this modern life we are go, go, GO.

Always feeling like we need to be doing more, accomplishing more, taking care of everything.

We hold ourselves to impossibly high standards of having our shit together, which requires juggling 10 things at the same time.

We’ve gotten to the point of feeling guilty if we’re stopping for just a wee bit to catch our breath.

If we’re not being productive around our professional lives, we should be out with friends, or with a partner, or at the gym, or working on a project, or taking care of the kids, or learning something new.

Nonstop.

Where is the time to even take a shower, one that isn’t rushed?

There’s a certain guilt that comes up, if we’re not always on.

At least where I live, in New York City, people pride themselves on being busy. It means they are important with important things to get done.

But this post isn’t just about busyness and the need to slow down and have moments of self-care.

Even if we don’t put it into practice, all of us have an idea that we need to be doing that for ourselves.

What I’m writing about today, is the idea that we should always be ‘on’ (meaning on the way upward), when the most natural thing is for things in life to fluctuate between going ‘up’ and going ‘down.’

 

Natural cycles

Have you ever noticed that there’s an inhale and an exhale to each breath? Like, really noticed?

Could you keep inhaling over and over and over and over without exhaling? How long could you do that for?

Or have you noticed that the moon has phases, and the year has seasons?

These are not just things that are, but things that point to a natural order of things: things are born, they grow, they decay, they die… then they are recycled in some way and the cycle starts again.

But in this modern life we have this idea that we should always, ALWAYS, be at the peak.

Always at the top or, at the very least, on our way there.

It’s not just improbable to live like this, but actually impossible.

It’s not natural, and we run ourselves to the ground. We make ourselves stressed, and later sick, and then dead, emotionally, spiritually and in some occasions even physically.

This is not just unsustainable, but it makes us miserable.

We’re not very good at being with the experiences of things going south, and the experiences of being in that death/rebirth space.

We resist it.

Things are great until we get to the peak, and then as soon as we start feeling ourselves sliding down, we freak out and think something is very very wrong.

We desperately try to get back up, fighting against what’s natural, which is incredibly depleting because we’re swimming against the current of what is happening.

Nothing is wrong.

It’s just the nature of things that what goes up comes down, and then goes up again, and so on.

If we didn’t resist the down and the transitional space, we would find that it is very regenerative to let ourselves be down without judgment.

We would find that, while this space of uncertainty can be a bit uncomfortable, especially when others around us seem to be moving ahead at full speed, it actually feels good to let ourselves gather our energy inwards to build the foundation of what wants to be birthed next.

And we would also find that, if we stopped resisting, we would go back up a lot more effortlessly once we went through the contraction and let ourselves come back up the other side.

The down is what builds the momentum.

When you find yourself going past the peak and starting the slide down, throw your hands up in the air and enjoy the plunge the same way you would on a rollercoaster.

Trust the cycle of nature and let yourself relax into the slope. Know that just as you’re going down, you’ll come back up.

You’ll come to a space of what feels like waiting, a space that is full of not knowing and, yes, it can be a bit unsettling.

Let yourself soak in that dark, in the uncertainty of that potential state.

I won’t say it’s easy.

Society trains us to think we should be doing the complete opposite, that we should be taking more action to get back up instead of letting the cycle complete.

But it’s so very worth it, because you won’t be fragmenting yourself into the part that needs the down and the part that’s working hard to get back up.

Instead, you will come out the other side whole, and that wholeness means you can put yourself 100% behind whatever actions the next growth period requires.

Here are some tips to make your way through the regenerative phase with less freakout and more ease.

1. Remember

The negative bias of our mind is what has kept our species alive for thousands of years. This means that our mind is conditioned to find problems, even when there aren’t any.

But as the saying goes, ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

Remind yourself that there is nothing wrong with having periods of feeling lost, unclear, or confused. We all go through them from time to time, and there’s no shame in that.

2. Breathe and develop trust in the process

When your mind is trying to tell you how much more you need to be doing, that you need to figure things out now, take a deep breath and repeat #1 to yourself until you can accept that you’re exactly where you need to be right now.

3. Get curious

Get in touch with that part of yourself that can sense the little threads of what wants to happen next, even if they aren’t in full focus yet.

Get curious about those threads, and follow their lead.

Maybe you want to experiment with photography, or want to learn more about physics, or feel like starting a new exercise regimen.

We don’t know where these things will lead, but following those threads will slowly lead you towards the right next direction for you, we just don’t know how it all comes together yet.

The ‘how’ doesn’t matter, as long as you get curious about what wants to be explored and follow the clues.

4. Get support

Because we all learn the same go, go, GO mentality, it’s likely that your friends and loved ones will be urging you to get your shit together before you’re ready.

They want to help you and support you in your happiness, but don’t understand that this is not the kind of support you need at this time. That this kind of support stresses you out, paralyzes you, makes you feel like shit, and actually stalls the process.

Explain to them that you’re ok (or trying to get ok) with where you are and feel this is a time to explore new things and see where they lead. They might understand, or maybe not.

If not, find people who will and surround yourself with people who will support you and accept you as you are in this transition.

5. Beware from comparison despair

Again, your mind will look around and try to find all the ways in which you’re a fuck up so that it can solve the problem.

One of those ways is looking at what others are doing, and comparing yourself to them.

Remind yourself that you have no clue what’s actually going on behind the scenes for those people. For all you know, they might be just as insecure as you are feeling right now. They might even be comparing themselves to you!

What’s more, it doesn’t matter. Remember point #1: we all go through phases of ups and downs. Just because that person is up right now doesn’t mean anything. You’ve also been up, and now you’re down, and you’ll be up again.

6. Keep a journal

Let all of your thoughts out, judgmental or not, onto paper.

This helps loosen their charge, making it easier to let them go. It’s also useful because we can look back later on and see the patterns of ups and downs, which help us to trust the process more easily next time we’re on the downswing.

7. Pleasure and self-care

Throughout this whole period, when you’re not having a clear sense of direction yet, make sure you’re taking good care of yourself by finding pleasurable activities that bring you joy and/or relaxation.

Read a book, go to the spa, go out with friends… Don’t deprive yourself of joy just because you are not at the peak.

 

 

Let things emerge, gently, slowly, patiently.

 

This process might take a few hours, a few days, or a few years, but the more you resist and try to get back up before it’s time, the longer it will take.

 

No, we certainly haven’t built our modern lives, cities and economies in agreement with this process, but it’s our responsibility to build a world that is.

For our sake, for the sake of our children, the planet, and all life.

We cannot keep denying the cycles of nature.

Or Nature, being wise, will create her own balance without our cooperation, and come and bite us in the ass in the shape of a breakdown, depression, disease or sudden death.

Why Not Rushing Is Always Better

I just had a fantastic massage, and was contemplating whether to follow my original plan of going to synagogue for the first Shabbat of the Jewish year.

The traditionalist in me felt it would be good to do that out of… tradition.

But this other something in me just wanted to sit and lounge and have a cup of tea, and maybe read a few more pages of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy (awesome book, by the way!).

In keeping with my (re)commitment to slowness and not rushing, I listened.

At first, I thought I’d go to one of my favorite places and have an alfajor de maizena (an Argentinian gluten free treat), but I walked in and my body was a ‘no.’

I promptly left and wondered down another street to a place where I wasn’t sure they would sit me without ordering dinner. They said I couldn’t have a table, but I could sit in the back or on the front porch.

I checked out the back patio, and there were some people having a very intense NYstyle discussion.

‘No.’

So I went back to the front, and sat on the porch with my tea.. and this guy who was playing guitar and practicing for his solo show tonight.

‘Perfect!’

So I sat, and sipped, and listened as I watched people walk by and brighten up when they heard him play.

It’s always so much better when I slow down, put the ‘shoulds’ aside, and listen.

I’m really enjoying this not rushing thing.

And the funny thing is, this is more in keeping with Shabbat than if I had hurried to make it to services. After all, Shabbat is about rest and reconnection.

And now I still get to go meet my synagogue community for dinner.

Best of both worlds.

What would be possible for you if you stopped rushing?

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Putting the Slow First

As I lay in the sauna with nothing to do except breathe and sweat, I heard it.

It sounded like a whisper at first, but as I noticed it became loud and clear:

You haven’t been paying attention  to me.

That’s what my body was saying.

I was quite surprised. I had been feeling out of alignment and was doing everything I knew to get back into it: eating healthy, exercising, even self-care practices like the sauna…

But it was rote.

I had been going through the motions of what I thought would get me back in touch, the things that had worked in the past.

But I wasn’t really listening.

There was always a barrage of things going through my mind at the same time I did all these things. All the things that I should be doing, that needed to get done.

All the while, my body had been screaming that I needed to slow down but I kept not paying attention because… well, shit needed to get done, bills paid, and slowing down was not an option.

I’d been operating from an ‘I know better’ capacity from my mind, totally immersed on trying to control my experience instead of listening to the wisdom within.

Even I, professing about the wisdom in the body and listening to it, even I fell into this hamster wheel of how things ‘should be’ so I can get the things I want.

I laugh because… Oh, the irony!

I used to teach that slowing down needed to come first and these were the exact things my clients used to tell me.

And I would say that slowing down is how we reconnect and recharge and get clear so all that action is focused instead of all over the place.

Slowing down makes our minds clearer and gets us in touch with another source of intelligence, our bodies. We get more creative and make better decisions which are more fulfilling; we feel more at peace and focused action comes from a place of inspiration instead of from anxiety, stress, and seeking approval.

And it’s still true, but I had forgotten.

Slow and steady wins the race

Slow and steady wins the race

I hadn’t been trusting that wisdom in my body, but when somehow I heard that faint whisper in the sauna… tears started streaming down my cheeks because I remembered.

Re-membered.

It’s not worth it to get the things you want, but not be able to enjoy them because your thoughts are telling you something is not perfect or to get on to the next thing that just appeared in your list.

There’s no enjoyment in that, and life will always feel like a never-ending list of tasks if lived that way.

I’m not bashing the mind; it’s an incredible tool. But it needs to be applied where appropriate and not where it’s not.

And I’ve not been doing a good job of distinguishing that.

Sometimes we need to buckle down and just get shit done even if it’s not what we feel like doing, but that’s not where the difference lies.

The difference is in whether we’re taking action out of creativity or out of trying to compensate for a perceived lack.

The first one will feel great even if we don’t feel like doing the proverbial ass-in-chair method, the second one will always feel draining in the end because we’re chasing the dragon of approval, ours or someone else’s.

Practicing slowing down and putting everything that needs to ‘get done’ aside is an excellent way to fill ourselves up with that approval and self-acceptance that we don’t need to be anything other than what we are right now, so that our actions can come from a place of offering instead of taking.

And so what if progress is slower? It’s still progress and it will feel a hell of a lot better throughout the journey and when we get ‘there’.

It’s time to put the slow first.

Will you join me?


LovelinessFor more of my personal experiences navigating the full-on intensity of what it takes to have an exciting, scrumptious life that makes you want to lick your fingers, subscribe to my blog.
And if you’re ready to take the plunge, step out of your box, and commit to living your best life ever, go ahead: email me to melody@nakedwellness.com to set up your complimentary connection session. I might poke… but only out of love.

I would love to know what comes up for you when you’re asked to slow down.

For me, the fear is that I won’t get the things I want and I’ll have wasted my life doing nothing. Yet I’ve tried it both ways and seen that it’s not worth it when I get what I want but cannot appreciate it.

There is a precious integration that happens when we can get our ass-in-chair out of inspiration and commitment instead of a perceived sense that we lack something to be lovable or successful.

Your turn to share!