Learn to pause… or nothing worthwhile will catch up with you.
Since I had pretty much four days to do not a whole lot but sleep and think, I had been thinking a lot about stopping, about surrendering. About listening to the voice that won’t yell, that won’t clamor above the noise to be heard, the voice that requires your full attention before sharing it’s wisdom with you.
This is the voice that speaks to me when I write deeply from the heart, the voice that always speaks with love and compassion, but can also share truth that sometimes stings a little. This is the voice that won’t play games, that won’t appear on demand when I have five minutes, nor will it disappear no matter how long I refuse to make time for it. It is the voice that helps to balance me, that reminds me to enjoy my life, to drink deeply of each experience, the voice that helps keep me connected to me.
And I realize I haven’t been doing a good job of making time for my inner voice of wisdom lately.
I have been doing a great job of living a life I love, of balancing a lot of competing demands, of being a lot of things to a lot of people- but not carving out specific time to listen to that inner voice of wisdom. This is one of the dangers of a life that is full… full of events, activities, people, places and things… most of which are chosen well, but I had some time to think through what it is that I want. Is my work/life balance working, is my self-care working, is my time with friends and family enough, is my writing time/alone time enough. What is it that I really want and need in my life right now… at least for the next six months.
“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.” Stephen R. Covey
One of the best lessons I have learned from my friends who are parents of young children is the constant reminder that the children that you are dealing with today will not be the children you have a week from now, a month from now. Every day they grow and change, their needs change, their ability to handle life changes, their very beings mold and adapt each day. And sometimes before a big growth spurt they will momentarily regress to gather themselves to propel to their next developmental stage. Somehow I had forgotten that as adults we do the same. Life changes, seasons change, our self-care and priorities need to change with them as well. And it is good to revisit what is working, what isn’t working and make small adjustments.
As I move towards living my life with more intention, with the goal of becoming the best Erica I can be I am realizing that incremental change isn’t as sexy as declaring that I shall eat nothing but grapefruit and chant 100 prayers a day and do yoga for 30 days straight, but it does certainly get me better results and for me it sticks.
I had wanted to eat better, to incorporate more fruits and veggies, and since watching Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead to use a juicer on a regular basis- I have started to do that because my intention was simple to get at least 5 more servings of fruit a week. Incremental change, and it has made a difference.
After having a great call with my coach tonight and talking about some of bits and pieces that my inner voice of wisdom has shared since I was forced/made time to listen (because as a good friend pointed out, regardless I was going to be sick, but it didn’t mean I had to learn anything, I made that choice, to be present for the lessons that were unfolding). I realized that I want more of that in my life. So instead of the radical change that I would have wanted in the past… perhaps 7 days of silence in a monastery somewhere in Nepal that would have never happened because it would require a passport and vaccinations and tickets and… and… instead, I am taking the incremental change route.
40 Days of Silence.
I am committing to 40 Days of Silence.
And the incremental roll out of that will be that for the next 40 days I will make a conscious choice to carve out five minutes of my day to be silent. And my coach had asked a great clarifying question “What is your definition of silence?” And I realized that for me I wanted it to incorporate a few different pieces…
One is that it is without any obvious distractions, but more importantly that it be without “productive thought”. So often when I sit with the intention of being silent I am trying to figure out what I should write next, or what goal I am working towards, or thinking about wow, it is quiet maybe I should turn on the radio/tv, check Facebook, anything but just savoring this peaceful moment. So to have it be about savoring the moment as is, whatever that may be.
Two is that I want it to have some element of the natural world. Living in Minnesota watching the snow fall softly is one of my favorite afternoon activities, but we haven’t had a whole lot this year, and I haven’t made time to enjoy it. Watching the branches and leaves sway, watching the clouds float by, appreciating the sun on my face when I get a chance to be outside during the day, all of these invite that spacious silence that I am seeking.
Three is sitting in the lap of love. I have a friend that calls her prayer time lap time. And whenever I am anxious, frustrated or have wound myself tightly about something that I usually have little control over she will remind me “Have you had your lap time?”. Taking the time to curl up in the lap of God and enjoy letting go of control, allowing yourself to simply feel completely and utterly loved.
Four is sometimes it will mean more of a moving meditation. Quietly walking, or stretching, or something else that my body is called to do.
So I know myself well enough to know that I have to have enough structure to make sense, but not enough that it feels claustrophobic. So how will I know? I will know it is that time because when I walk away I will feel connected and restored. I will feel like slowing down. I will feel like I have just had a tall glass of cool water.
So I am sure that I will share more about my 40 Days of Silence, but I invite you to consider, what is it that you would like more of in your life? What would you like to focus on for 40 Days?