This past week I’ve been relaxing in the tropical rainforests of North Queensland. Mission Beach area to be more precise. An Ashtanga retreat, I decided three months ago when I booked this trip that it was time I stop feeling guilty for taking time out for me and just do it!
Whilst away I made a conscious effort to spend as minimal time working as possible. It is easy to get carried away with checking emails, answering calls and business planning. Instead, I was strict with myself and actually allowed myself time to stop. I read an entire fiction book from start to finish over the past five days! This is unheard of for me. To put this in context, I’m still working away at a book I started over a year ago. The only books I ever finish are audio books dedicated to business, not something purely for my own creative enjoyment.
Taking time out from my laptop meant I didn’t blog either. I kept my regular hand written journal, but I wanted to really challenge myself to keep away from anything I tend to affiliate with work. Why? Because my mind needed a rest. I needed to allow the thoughts to come and to go. I needed to remember how to sit with my feelings and explore them silently, no matter how uncomfortable this felt on occasion. Whilst journaling and blogging is a wonderful outlet for me, I can sometimes put pen to paper too soon before fully taking the time to delve in and explore what’s going on for me. So I did this this week. I just sat. Reflected. Read. Knowing I would write about this experience at some point but without rushing to do so, as I so often can.
I once read we can learn more about ourselves sitting quietly for one hour than we can in five years of unfocused searching. I don’t know about the five years part, but I did sit in meditation for up to an hour every day and just watched. I watched where my thoughts darted off to. I watched when my mind would settle. I noticed how my physical body would interfere with the quietness of my mind. Then how I could choose the power of my mind to override the aches of my physical body from sitting for so long.
As I sat quietly, I had a recurring thought come up. Guilt if you will about taking time out for myself. Guilt about not reading emails or having teachers cover my classes whilst I’m sitting in the middle of the rainforest, alone, in deep, selfish meditation. I pondered this for sometime over the week. I even raised it in conference. My conclusion – well, there isn’t one really. But what I came to know about myself is that I tend to feel the only time I’m doing something worthwhile is when there is a tangible result at the end of it. Students attend a class, I meet with a partner, I make a phone call or send an email. What this also helped me to realize is how deeply ingrained the roots of my script, created throughout my childhood, has burrowed. The need to be a martyr, to achieve outstanding results to make my parents proud and compete with my elder brothers and sisters (I’m the baby of eight), the feeling of having to prove what I’m capable of as a woman, the desperate need to heal my body and rid it from pain. This is all neurotic stuff. I know this. What is exciting is the profound realizations I, and everyone, can have when I take some time to sit quietly with my thoughts, without judgment or force and actually accept myself for where I’m at in that moment.
The need to produce tangible results day in, day out is just a neurotic, socially fuelled expectation. My reality is, I don’t need to do this. It is OK to step back and be utterly selfish and care for myself once in a while. What I know to be true is – not doing this – can lead only down one very unhealthy path.
Having granted myself permission to take time out, however uncomfortable it was at times, has been fundamental to rejuvenating my body and mind. I’m now home, refreshed and renewed with memories that will last a lifetime.
And as I write this blog, I feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for having introduced yoga into my life some time ago. It grounds me. It clears my mind and challenges every part of my being. For this, I am a better person.
Much love from a more centred place,