“To attain knowledge, add things every day.
To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”
Can you believe it’s August already?! Throughout the summer in our Virtual Yin + Meditation classes we’ve been exploring the theme of summer self-care.
Specifically, super simple summer self-care (try to say that five times fast).
What is the easiest way to make something super simple? Make it something that you don’t have to “do” at all!
Summer can already be a busy time as we feel the call of nature waking us back up to our fullest potential, full speed ahead.
What I’m loving about this summer though, is that we all seem to be moving just a tiny bit slower.
Could it be that five months of staying at home and social distancing has allowed many of us that usually go, go, go to experience and even appreciate the delicious slowness and simplicity of having much less to do?
Over at my parent’s house on a small lake in the suburbs recently, they noted how they’ve observed a definite increase in the number of “peaceful” watersports on the lake this year.
I saw it too – normally full of jet skis buzzing like giant mosquitos and speedboats trailing tubes of screaming children – there was just…quiet. Pontoons lazily drifting by, kayaks and paddleboarders enjoying the calm of still waters.
This is self-care at it’s finest. Nothing to do, nowhere to go, no one to be.
We often think of self-care as something that we do for our physical bodies, maybe for our minds, too. But self-care doesn’t have to be something that we DO at all. And true self-care is something that not only benefits our body and our mind, but also our heart, our soul, and our spirit.
It even benefits our relationships! When you remember to practice your own self-care, I promise that you will find that it benefits everyone around you, too. You’re able to relate in a calmer, kinder, more present fashion with your loved ones (as well as being calmer, kinder and more present with yourself!).
So what does this “doing nothing” summer self-care actually look like? It’s not about adding more things to do…it’s about removing things!
1. Slowing Down (remove constant doing)
2. Becoming Still (remove constant going)
3. Appreciating Silence (remove constant noise)
4. Practicing Surrender (remove control – your attachment to a particular outcome or to things needing to be a particular way)
Which of these self-care ‘wisdom-producing’ practices do you already engage in?
Which of these practices has the current pandemic forced you to experience – maybe even appreciate?!
Do you find yourself slowing down more lately? Staying grounded in one place more often? Appreciating quiet time? Practicing – by force or by choice – the art of surrendering control?
Which ones could you start exploring?
Let’s look at each practice a little bit closer:
1. Slowing Down – this is about removing our intrinsic need to do, do, do; our incessant drive to accomplish, achieve and be endlessly productive. It’s ok to do less – in fact, it’s necessary for your well-being!
Like many of us, if you find that you have trouble figuring out how to slow down, a yin yoga class can help to gently shift you into that space: “When you allow yourself to stay present and experience the near-imperceptible shifts that occur while holding a yin posture, time opens up. Deadlines, commitments, pressing matters, and to-do lists fade to the background, leaving tremendous space for rest and renewal.” (from an article called: 10 Reasons to Make Time for Yin Yoga When You’re Too Busy).
EVEN simpler? Lay on the ground, indoors or out, and begin to take deep, slow, smooth breaths, breathing all the way down into your belly. Count to four on the inhale as you feel your belly expand, and count to six on the exhale as you feel your belly relax. Do this at least ten times, in and out through the nose. This begins to shift your jangled up fight-or-fight nervous system into the parasympathetic mode – the “rest + digest” mode. We MUST be in this “rest + digest” mode in order for our bodies to access our innate ability to heal, for our digestion to function properly (hello WAY too many digestive disorders in our culture, me included), and to be able to connect to our intuition + deep inner wisdom.
2. Becoming Still – this is about removing the need to go, go, go; our inability to be fully present in each moment, and our tendency to distract ourselves from our true self by never allowing ourselves to be at home. It is time to come home!
These days we are at home quite often aren’t we? But our true home, the one that is always with us no matter where we physically are – is the home inside of ourselves. That is the home we truly need to see, to explore, to spend time with, and really get to know.
There are many ways we might begin to embark on a path of self-discovery: meditation, personality/psychological type, therapy, coaching – even yin yoga can be an interesting and unexpected starting point by creating the space and stillness to be able to see our true self, with our true needs, wants, and desires: “In yin yoga we come to an edge in a pose and become still. While we hold the pose, we go within. We start to notice what is going on in life, right here, right now – without adding any drama…With clarity we see what is really needed, beyond the cravings and aversions that normally move us. We are now free to create a new response, and over time build new paths to follow.”-Bernie Clark, Yin Teacher + Author
From a spiritual perspective, I would highly recommend looking at this moment in time as an important moment to start doing things differently. This is a moment in time that is asking us to begin a new kind of journey. It’s a moment where many of us actually have the time and space – the ability to be still – to finally be able to begin such a journey back to our true home, able to shed all that is “not-us” and begin living as the shining being we were meant to be – you know, the one we left behind long ago in order to become a responsible and mildly lame adult.
That inner child inside of you probably wants to have a little more fun, believe in a little more magic, dream a bigger dream. The adult part of you probably wants to feel less stressed about the world and your place in it, experience more fulfillment, figure out why you can’t stick with all the well-intentioned self-care routines you regularly put into place.
As mentioned above, personality/psychological type and coaching can also be an amazing starting place for a journey of self-discovery, a journey that is about returning to wholeness – a state of being healed in body/mind/heart/soul, a journey of returning home to our true self. It’s funny how pre-pandemic we never really had the time for this kind of journey, did we?
I just recently bought my inner child a hoard of sparkly unicorn t-shirts and she’s quite happy with this decision. I’m working on integrating the themes of play, pleasure, fun and spontaneity back into my life in a healthy and supportive way. What are you working on? Have you met your inner child recently? What is your adult self struggling with right now? Can I help?
Lao Tzu has also taught us, “Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom.”
3. Appreciating Silence – this is about removing the constant noise; the noise outside ourselves that we use as another way to distract us from our true selves: the news, the newspaper, the TV, Netflix, even music when we habitually use it as a way to distract ourselves from something we don’t want to feel.
But also the inside noise that bombards us – the constant flurry of thoughts inside our own minds that we cannot seem to escape, the unnerving stream of emotions that live inside our bodies that we do not understand what to do with. It’s time we learn how to sit with true silence – not an oppressive and unnerving silence, but one that heals and nourishes us.
If we try to cold-turkey our way into the experience of silence, it’s more likely to be an experience like this 21 Pilots song describes: “Somebody stole my car radio and now I just sit in silence / Sometimes quiet is violent / I’m forced to deal with what I feel / there is no distraction to mask what I feel.”
What we need is a tool that is capable of changing an experience of ‘violent silence’ into one with the potential to heal. Mindfulness is one such tool that can do this: “During the time you are practicing mindfulness, you stop talking – not the talking outside, but the talking inside. The talking inside is the thinking, the mental discourse that goes on and on and on inside. Real silence is the cessation of talking – of both the mouth and of the mind. This is not the kind of silence that oppresses us. It is a very elegant kind of silence, a very powerful kind of silence. It is the silence that heals and nourishes us.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
4. Practicing Surrender – this is about releasing control, removing our attachment to a particular outcome or to things needing to be a particular way. The art of surrender teaches us not only to surrender our physical body by becoming aware of the tension we hold so that our tension can melt to softness, but it also teaches us to become more resilient to stress by surrendering our mind to whatever might be happening in that moment.
For example: I love sitting outside in my backyard; I do NOT love it when the red squirrels fill my backyard with their headache-inducing high-pitched chattering. I just want to scream at them, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SHUT UP – CAN’T YOU SEE YOU’RE RUINING MY PEACEFUL MOMENT?! But then who’s really ruining the peaceful moment…is it the squirrels? Or might it be…ME? As spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle says, “If you let go of your reaction there’s just the noise, and your egoic self dissolves and the noise goes right through you. That’s called surrender.”
So when I can’t create and control the perfect silent conditions a la point #3, what I can do is practice surrender. Those red squirrels are actually kind of cute to watch as they chase each other around the tree and eventually they move on to another quieter activity (how or why so much noise emits from such a small body I do not understand. I imagine parents sometimes feel this way about their children) but I can thank them for the opportunity to hone my stress resilience skills.
This skill of releasing control to let the annoyance go right through us can be applied to anything that isn’t threatening our safety but we just find super annoying or incongruent to what we WANT to be happening – long lines, traffic jams, rain on your wedding day, ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife – oops that’s actually an Alanis Morissette song.
After physical surrender and mental surrender there’s even another level of surrender – the one I might call “spiritual surrender.” This is where we allow ourselves to be open to a force greater than ourselves; where life moves from meaningless to meaningful. Where we can open ourselves up to both the practice of free will (setting very clear intentions and taking steps towards our self-determined goals) AND the idea that things could be grander, more abundant, easier and more magical than we ever could have imagined with our worldly human brains.
But we have to practice surrender.
If we are so intent on things turning out OUR way on OUR timeline we completely close ourselves off to the possibility of things turning out even BETTER than we had hoped for. Surrender in this sense is trust, it is faith, it is openness, it is non-attachment – it is also delight and wonder and innocence and pure joy.
Need a mantra to remind yourself about the art of surrender now and then? Here are two that I use on the regular:
When setting intentions or doing focused goal-setting, be sure to end it with this statement from astrologer Yasmin Boland: “This or something better now manifests for me, under grace in perfect ways.”
And when in doubt and everything just seems unusually confusing/frustrating/
“To attain knowledge, add things every day.
To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”
This summer as you practice your super simple self-care…
- Slowing Down (removing constant doing);
- Becoming Still (removing constant going);
- Appreciating Silence (removing constant noise);
- Practicing Surrender (releasing control);
…perhaps like Lao Tzu, you too, will find that this act of removing things, of releasing, of letting go, of opening up and creating space allows that space to be filled not with more things and thoughts and accomplishments –
but with a deep and nourishing wisdom, a wisdom that has the power to heal.
From theory to practice…
Now Put it Into Practice!
1. Create your own Full Moon Releasing Ritual
to begin your wisdom-producing practice of removing things…instructions below!
2. Join a Yin Yoga + Mindfulness Meditation Class
3. Sign up for a 1:1 Personal Growth + Healing Coaching Session
to deepen your journey of returning to wholeness, a journey of self-discovery and healing that leads you back to your ‘true home’ – I use a number of tools to facilitate self-discovery, self-care, personal growth, and healing on the level of the body, mind, heart, and soul. Address any challenge that ails you, free consults always available. For both individuals and relationships.
Summer Special: Single 45min coaching sessions $75 – a short-term commitment that’s easier on the budget. I use my keen intuition to get right to heart of what ails you. Expect clarity and a clear path forward, plus plenty of tools to support you on your healing journey. Think I could help? Contact me here.
FULL MOON RELEASING RITUAL:
A Full Moon is energetically the perfect time for RELEASING!
It’s a great time to begin your new practice of self-care by REMOVING some of the doing, going, noise, and attachment to control in your life.
1. Go outside into the fresh air and allow yourself a few moments to breathe deeply and feel peaceful. Visualize a bright golden light washing over you and cleansing your body, mind, heart and soul of all negative energy.
2. Use a piece of scratch paper to then write down everything you are choosing to release – low energies, old habits, limiting beliefs, people/places/things that are no longer serving you or that you’ve outgrown. (Here’s where you can name the unhealthy elements of doing, going, noise, and attachment to control in your life that you’re ready to release in the name of self-care!).
3. And then the fun part…burn it!! Imagine and FEEL all of those things you wrote down leaving your life as they are carried away into the ether.
You’re now creating the space for WISDOM and HEALING to emerge instead.