How Slowing Down Actually Speeds You Up
This past Saturday, I made it home to New York. I had been working on a film shooting in Atlanta for a few months. I use the word “made” as in how I arrived at home deliberately. Not: skipped, bounced, bounded, or any other sort of super energetic verb. I was feeling inward and much more quiet than usual, and my little apartment welcomed me in the best possible, cozy way.
Some people may see the concept of recharging and knowing when to pause and take care of yourself as a waste of time, time that can be spent charging ahead or working or achieving more. Or that “me” time can be perceived as being selfish. But I know the opposite to be true. The extent that I am energetically supportive of others and can best perform all aspects of my work and maintain my relationships is directly in correlation with how much I nurture and support myself.
Our society puts too much emphasis on constant “doing”, without recognizing that in the recharging space you can come back to work, duties and relationships in a more productive, enhanced way. Whether you are a mom, a college kid or trying to make your way in the corporate, art, (fill in the blank) world, you may come to a time when you just push and push and push and then leave yourself stressed out and incapable of being the best you can be.
You never want to feel like you are just going through the emotions of anything, disconnected from your body and not present. Otherwise, life just starts to slip by. You deserve to be not only present, but passionate in every moment, and have every moment be an opportunity for growth and alignment.
On this last film I worked on, I was with clients all day long, working on dietary plans and cooking for them. At breaks between lunch and dinner, I would go shopping and get on conference calls for other exciting launches (there are not one, not two but at least three big projects I’ll be able to announce to you soon. Stay tuned!), work on emails, or talk to other clients in LA. After getting home from work, which was anytime from 7-9, I would continue to work in the hotel on the other projects or talk to and support other clients. There is really no separation between my work and my life. Everything from how I eat and all aspects of my lifestyle is breathed into my writing, my work with my clients and my upcoming projects.
Though I truly love exactly what I do and wouldn’t trade it for the world, or alter course if I won 100 million dollars, I can feel when I need to take care of myself and focus on personally recharging myself. Once I finished the movie and got back Saturday, that need was not just calling out to me. It was screaming. My neck and shoulders ached, and I just wanted to relax and be with myself.
My guru Paramahansa Yogananda uses the analogy of the body as a lightbulb that has electricity surging through it and needs to be recharged through meditation, right activity, and simultaneously not wasting energy in emotional chaos and moods. It is also important to truly recognize that the mind and body are intrinsically connected. When you experience stressful situations in work or in any relationship in your life, or have a lot you are obsessing or over-thinking about, or simply have too many things you are juggling, you body starts to encrypt that stress and internalize it. The foremost form many of us are aware of as the physical manifestation of stress is through a tight back, neck and shoulders. But stress also manifests in digestive issues of all kinds (acid reflux, constipation, gassiness, diarrhea), deeper back and organ issues, and accelerated aging. Michael Gershon, M.D, a pioneer in neurogastroenterology, points out in his book, The Second Brain, that about 95% of the body’s serotonin is made in the gut.
Over the last few years, I’ve become more and more aware and I pay closer attention to what my body is trying to tell me. I attribute this to my meditation and yoga practice, eating a super clean diet, and simply trying to listen more. If you listen to your body too you can start to learn a lot. There is so much intelligence in the body guiding you as to the best possible way to take care of it, and you as a whole spirit.
When I made it home I let myself fully unwind for two days. That means until today (Monday) I didn’t do any direct work (okay, except for a few emails!). I let myself read a book I wanted to read, that I found really interesting. I curled up on my hammock in my little backyard and also on my cozy blue couch in my living room.
I treated myself to a 2-hour massage Saturday evening, with the first hour being acupressure. All massage is useful in moving the lymph through the lymph system, especially if the masseuse has positive energy, but I love acupressure because it targets specific energy points. I actually had visions of stressful situations that arose in the last few weeks come to mind as the masseuse worked on points around my body. I could feel the old energy them start to dissolve into the ether, to be recycled into another form of energy, but most importantly rooted out of my body. If you’ve ever had a feeling in your stomach, your heart, etc. when you read an email or had a charged or emotional conversation, you can start to tune in to how life experiences take root in the body.
Walking home from the massage, it started to lightly rain, and I welcomed the feeling of the cool drops. I was wearing flip flops and a summer dress, so it was sort of cold, but after all the energetic release it felt like it was truly meant to be part of my cleansing.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine it is widely believed that “cold” and “dampness” can restrict energetic flow and warming substances can promote flow. After allowing myself to feel the cool rain, I wanted to get warm. I took a hot shower then made tea and soup. In fact, the last few days, besides GGS I’ve been mostly eating soup. It really just felt like what my body deeply needed.
I made my Delish Squash Bisque one day, then today a really simple mushroom soup in vegetable broth with wilted arugula. In that moment of reflection, I asked myself how to get energy from my surroundings, finding that inner essence within, and the message I received was “shitake mushrooms.” I do believe it is important to pause sometimes and ask your body what it feels will really nourish it, instead of just eating what you always eat for lunch or dinner because you’re used to a pattern. Allow your body to speak to you.
I decided not to reach out to any friends yet because I wanted to self-nurture and keep tuning in. Often, the best way to do that is in solitude. Then you can really hear your intuition and body talking to you. No, you may not be able to go away on a retreat or shut your family out completely, but even a few hours going on a walk or telling your spouse you need some time so maybe he or she can watch the kids for a few hours while you take a bath or meditate are all perfectly doable ways to incorporate these healing practices into your every day life.
Today, I decided to get an acupuncture session. There are two practitioners I really like in NY. I don’t get acupuncture regularly, and have never had to use it for pain or a specific ailment per se. But sometimes, like now, when I feel that there is an “energy leak” or I feel energy has drained out, I like to get a session as part of my recharging strategy. I am sensitive to the energy the needles open up, and I like the surge of chi it brings.
None of us should feel that the adjective “tireless” is one to aspire to. We are all energetic beings; energy needs to be supported and nurtured. If we run ourselves ragged who benefits? I am now feeling my energy fully surge back in, and with it more access to feeling powerful, overt and ready to pursue with enthusiasm all the duties around my projects and sacred relationships to family and friends. However, had I not taken my little healing hiatus for the last 3 days I doubt I would be feeling in such an empowered state.
I encourage you to do the same: listen to your body and what it is telling you, especially if it is asking for rest or nourishment. If you ignore it, it will only compound. And as you honor it, your inner alignment to the universal Source will strengthen, and you will be able to tap into higher and higher realms of your personal Power.