One of my favorite Zen proverbs is “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day — unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.”
I’ve read a lot of interpretations of this quote, but here’s the one I’m offering:
When life feels stressful or "crazy", that's when we most need to practice kindness and sweetness toward ourselves.
For a long, long time my default was the doer -- run myself ragged and go at full speed in order to get things done while sacrificing my sanity, sleep and basic human needs in the process.
Can you relate?
In other words, when life got busy (as it always tends to do), I’d run myself into the ground and become a big stress monster. These are the periods - the "crazy" ones - when my eating and exercise habits used to get particularly obsessive.
In an attempt to gain control over something, I’d inevitably turn to hyper awareness of everything I ate and would overexercise to the point of exhaustion and sometimes even injury. This false sense of comfort perpetuated my eating disorder and exercise addiction for years.
Have you ever felt this way or got caught in similar patterns?
You're not alone! I've found this to be a pretty common thread among my clients, and it actually speaks to the core of my work: body image issues are typically a manifestation of an imbalance in some other part(s) of our lives.
Instead of taking out stress on my body, nowadays my tactic is this:
When life gets busy and I feel inclined to nix part of my self-care routine, I intentionally ramp up whatever practice is serving me at that time. Recently this has been meditation, not responding to texts right away and taking social media breaks. (Btw- not responding to texts right away is a game-changer.)
I don’t go by time (like meditate for 20 minutes instead of 10). I simply just do more restful and recharging practices than I typically would.
It might seem counterintuitive to take more time to be in touch with yourself when the to-do list keeps growing, but I believe this is what helps us connect more deeply to the natural flow of life, and when we do that, life tends to get much easier, even among a hectic schedule.
A few weeks ago my own life coach offered me this practice, and I found it really helpful:
Make a list of all the stuff you can let go of for the time being. What’s unnecessary right now? What can you drop that’ll help open up space for you to breathe and find more ease?
If you take stock of your commitments and it’s actually not possible to drop anything, that’s OK too! It’s still possible to be kinder, gentler and sweeter to yourself when life gets busy.
Here’s something anyone can implement, whether you can re-prioritize your commitments or not: become aware of how you’re speaking to yourself.
How does your self-talk change when life becomes stressful?
If it heads toward the negative, how can you be a bit sweeter to yourself?
What would your best friend say to you in that moment?
How can you soften your heart and be on your own team?
This week, I challenge you to intentionally slow down - if only for a moment - when life feels busy. Take a breathe, speak kind words to yourself or sit quietly for an extra 10 minutes if you can. Whatever works for your life, do that!
As always, I love hearing your thoughts so drop a comment below or email me!: firstname.lastname@example.org.