There’s an ancient saying that goes something like this: What we give our attention to, grows.
If our attention goes to the relentless need to do it all and to please everyone along the way, over time living this way will come at the expense of our health.
It will put too much stress on our mind. Exhaust our body.
While we can be so generous with ourselves, taking care of others and giving of our time and resources, we can lose sight of how all our giving and doing is having an impact on us.
For some of us, we feel its impact, but for our own very good reasons carry on in the same vein anyway, ignoring our bodies signals along the way.
It’s innocent really. Nobody teaches us about the ways our bodies try to speak to us, (3) with a pain here, or an ache there; weakening fatigue, or overwhelming emotion.
Besides, we don’t have time to pay attention to our bodies. We’re busy. We’ve got important things to do.
Ignoring our body’s signals comes at a price
Research reflects the toll stress takes on the interconnected body and mind. It contributes to the development of familiar health conditions, such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression and anxiety, gastro intestinal problems, in addition to accelerated aging. (1) There’s also a growing body of literature that reveals the connection between the stress of childhood trauma and the development of adult disease. (2)
What we can do about it
There’s a little something I like to call the Circle of Life. It’s an uncomplicated observation that’s emerged out of decades of therapy work with clients.
It refers to the idea we have a bank of energy to spend. We spend it on the people, places and things that matter to us.
We also spend our energies on replenishing them. Filling up our bank to capacity again before dipping in and sending our energies back out into the world. Energy out. Energy in. Simple.
However . . .
What I’ve noticed over the years is we’re particularly good at spending our energies.
Not so attentive to replenishing them.
That is, until we become so out of balance we must begin to pay attention, or else face the ill effects a continued downward momentum to our health.
It’s not uncommon that I work with women whose attention gets taken up by a series of distressing life events. Each rolling into the other over the course of many months, even years. The stress of it all becomes too much to bear. Exhaustion sets in. Depression emerges. It’s at that point she reaches out for help to find her way through. I have to admit, I’ve been there too.
When, for our own good reasons, we neglect to pay attention to ourselves during stressful times, it betrays the body mind’s inherent need for the restorative experience.
What does this mean?
It means taking the time to pause, unwind, reflect, and allow the body and mind to restore itself from the inside out. Doing so refines our alignment with our own natural rhythm. It deepens our connection with our own unique voice.
The restorative experience brings healing. Healing brings balance. Balance brings contentment.
We return to our world with all of its complexities feeling grounded, refreshed, and at more ease with ourselves.
It’s the forgotten key to well-being.
Here are 5 tips for inviting the restorative experience into our world:
- Designate a physical space where we can retreat to, where we can pull back from the world, settle in and shift our focus to spending quiet time with our self. It could be in a room in our home, or a corner of our garden, or it may be somewhere away from home, like a tranquil area of a local park, or by the beach.
- Set the tone. Signal to our deeper mind that it’s time to slow down and spend intimate time with our self. If we’re at home, light a candle, or turn on music that feels soothing to our soul, or turn on the diffuser with our favorite essential oil.
- Practice the art of doing nothing. Yes, you read that right. Stop doing. I know it can be hard. But this is the point: for some of us we’ve become so conditioned to being in motion that it’s become a real challenge to not-do.One of my favorite ways of “not-doing” is through a restorative style of hatha Yoga*, where the body is held in a supportive way so it can restore its vital energies. A Supported Corpse position comes to mind: lying down on the floor on a mat, or perhaps on the bed, with a pillow beneath the knees, a blanket over the body, and simply resting here for 5 or 10 minutes at a time**.If you resist the idea of spending intimate time with yourself, consider this: Why not? What’s turning you off about being in your own company?
- Express yourself. Write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal. Or, paint, draw, collage, or play music if you’re so inclined. Talk to someone you can trust. Let the truth of you be expressed in a way that feels good to you.
- Feed your soul. Read inspiring literature. Listen to uplifting music. Pray. Spend time in the company of a cherished friend or family member, including an animal friend. Or practice forest bathing, drawing in the atmosphere of a forest. Do the things you know will nourish you from the inside out.
When we invite the restorative experience into our world, we complete the Cycle of Life. We let there be room for a natural restorative process to replenish our vital energies and breathe new life into our body and mind. In the course thereof, we remember we are more than a human-doing. We understand from our renewed perspective what it feels like to be a human-being.
How would you describe yourself? Are you more of a human-doing right now? Or do you engage in restorative practices? If so, what are you weaving into your life? I’d love to hear from you.