STOP!!! Before you have no choice but to
I really think we spend too much time pushing ourselves (and sometimes others), rushing around, doing things we don't want to do because society says we 'should', filling our days because either there are so many interesting things to do, or, we feel a pressure to be busy.
Maybe we don't want to seem lazy by saying we did nothing on the weekend. Maybe we don't want offend or seem antisocial by refusing an invitation. Maybe we are just not sure what to do with ourselves if we are not doing something with a clearly defined start and end...
I think this way because I have always lived like that. In a effort to seem 'normal'. In an effort to be like everyone else. To hide my dislike of big groups and loud places such as bars and clubs. To hide my social anxiety I used to take photos at parties with friends, then at concerts of friends in Japan. It made it easier avoid my feared discomfort of boring someone with a conversation for too long that I didn't know how to get out of. "Oh, I have to go take some more photos".
This was in contrast to the fact that I've always pushed against that idea of being 'normal' and always wanted to be happy to be a bit different. But being a bit conflict adverse, it became easier to put myself aside and be someone else who was somewhat 'normal', who fitted in, who was welcomed along to things.
Socially, I found I ended up putting up with things that I didn't enjoy, couldn't relate to and didn't really want to be involved in. I ended up living within the lives of others and not really doing the things I'd always wanted to. Unfortunately, this kind of lifestyle takes its toll. Higher stress levels, worse sleep, poorer digestion leading to poor nutrient absorption, which can lead to a plethora of other issues that have been coming to light in recent research. These include anxiety, depression, other mental health issues as well as exhaustion and just plain crankiness.
When I found more gentle forms of yoga, I managed to start to see where I'd ended up in my life and that it wasn't where I wanted to be. What I needed to change (sleep patterns, stress levels, digestion, nutrient absorption, people pleasing) and what I wanted to change (going outside more - sunrise & sunset, to look at the starry skies; taking more time for me; small group events, so avoiding large group activities; doing activities and traveling places I'd put off for years)
This is why I teach a gentle form of Hatha Yoga as well and Yin & Restorative. We all need to stop. But don't always have time/space/finances to go far away.
This is why we limit class sizes to 12 people maximum. To keep the practice personal and private.
I want people to have a place they feel comfortable to just slow down and stop within their regular routine. A place where they do not need to feel the pressure to talk if they don't want to, or can just lie down without being jumped on by kids or pets, and where they can just leave their everyday worries, lists and thoughts aside for an hour or so. A space that allows them to rediscover themselves. To find the self that has maybe been lost in the roles taken on in life - superparent, carer, bread-winner, cleaning slave, master chef in the home, mentor, organiser et cetera.
And apparently I do quite well at providing this space for others (thank you to my wonderful yogis for your lovely feedback)
However, I am not so good at doing it for myself.
Others may understand this if you have a carpenter in the family but not doors on the kitchen cabinets, or similar situations. I am excited and motivated to help others, less so to do the things I need for myself. This is my current challenge.
Of course if we don't stop and allow ourselves time to recover and repair we will be made to stop as our bodies, minds and relationships start to degrade. An over-stressed worker may have a heart attack or stroke as the body tells them to "STOP!!" They may start to forget important things. Their partners may drift away, or feel pushed away, because they are always working. Don't forget why you are working. This post provides some food for thought on that front.
And by 'work' I mean all the things that you feel you have to do: working for others or yourself, housework, taking care of dependents, studying, et cetera.
Now being bad at this kind of self-generated stopping, it was quite difficult for me to take an actual holiday (not a mindfulness tour, not a visit where I had to catch up with different people each day, not a work-related event, not sitting at home thinking you need to relax but really should do the garden, clean out the spare room/in or under the fridge).
Fear stopped me for a long time. Fear of new yogis not joining because we weren't there. Fear of current yogis getting sore and stiff while I was gone. Fear of not being able to cover costs if I brought some of the other wonderful instructors I know in to cover. Fear of people coming to class when we weren't there then being annoyed or disappointed. If you experience this kind of fear, here is a great TEDTalk that shows ways to work with it. I'll be trying this next time :)
But in early June I did just that. I spoke to my regular yogis, who were fine with us taking a week off, which helped me feel I could do it with minimal guilt. Then, for the first time in a couple of years, I went on an actual, with-the-purpose-of-relaxation, holiday. We did catch up with friends but only for a couple of days, so I had five full days of nature, walking, sitting, watching, listening, eating local produce, and seeing platypus!!! (amongst other things)
After a couple of days sitting and watching sunrise and just looking at the water, as well as an awesome walk from Rose Bay to Horseshoe Bay in Bowen, I was starting to relax. To STOP and be present in just that place in each of those moments. It was wonderful sitting on the balcony looking out at the beach.
The next day was a bit busy with a drive down to Airlie in time for an all day tour on a high-speed, semi-rigid hull around the Whitsundays to snorkel off Hook Island, hike to look over Hill Inlet then lunch on Whitehaven Beach before coming back past Hamilton, South Molle and Daydream Islands. The latter 2 were still an absolute mess following Debbie but Hamilton Island was back at 60% capacity. Whitehaven was beautiful but we will have to go back when the trees have had time to recover as the bush behind the beach looked almost dead.
It was a busy day but with such gorgeous scenery, interesting guides, green sea turtles and activities we were still able to BE in each of those moments. I did not get asked once what I wanted for the next meal (Yay!! My previous boss, after getting married, stated something along the lines of: marriage is just a progression of time where two people repeatedly ask each other what the next meal will consist of... lol)
The weekend in Mackay with friends was lovely. Seeing local scenic spots and just chatting, seeing how much the kids had grown, and introducing the 7yo to yoga around the sporting engagements of the older siblings. (Congrats to Keeva on her selection in the regional softball team!! Woohoo!!)
Then we made our way to Eungella. If you want to see platypus, go to Eungella. We saw them dawn and dusk each day and mid-afternoon on the cloudy day. Once again the damage from Debbie was quite bad - the canopy had been stripped of leaves and fruit. There was sunshine where there had always been shade. But, it was still beautiful.
Eugella was where I finally managed to totally stop. There was no need to think about anything else. One of the platypus viewing platforms was a bit further away from the carpark and road. I spent a lot of time there just looking at the water. Watching tortoises moving slowly across the water, listening to the water cascade down the rocks into the pools where the platypus live and forage. Sometimes there were no platypus visible, but it was so peaceful to just stop, look, listen, and breathe the fresh air.
I've learnt that I need to stop more often. And I've learnt what enables me to stop. To not rush around doing all the things I 'should' be doing (whether dictated by myself or society). To not rush around trying to tick everything off my list - if we had done a day trip to Eungella, we may not have seen the platypus as we would have missed dawn/dusk. Even if I'd seen a platypus, I wouldn't have seen the Azure Kingfisher that was only there in the late afternoon each day.
On the way back to Mackay we stopped a Finch Hatton Gorge - a lovely spot. We had time to stop and sit watching the water, breathing the fresh air, listening to the water and the breeze on our own, be others got there. To STOP and BE present in just that place, in each of those moments.
Your STOP may be meditation, watching different scenery or even sitting in your garden
Your STOP may be movement - art, walking, fishing, yoga, taichi, qi gong
But, whatever it is you do that allows your mind to STOP, allowing you to BE and your body to recover, do it, and do it often
We will be taking holidays more regularly so we can provide you with better, more relaxing classes. While we did miss you all, it was a well-needed break. Thank you for your patience :) Click on the photo below to see the gallery of the trip and the platypus video