My dear friend and mentor Suzanne Scurlock-Durana posted a page yesterday called Rejuvenation in the Age of Speed. It is her intention to start a conversation around the idea that “some of us” tend to over-function at the expense of our bodies and perhaps ultimately our lives.
As I read her blog I recognized myself. I have learned ways to rejuvenate myself and the healthy habits I have cultivated allow me to accomplish a lot. The question her blog raised for me is “What does it mean to accomplish and why is it so urgent for me?”
I had a conversation yesterday morning with G (another human who admittedly keeps working when he should sit down) about this very topic. Staying in a state of physical and mental activity is a way to avoid feeling what we may not want to feel. The feeling that may arise with inactivity is guilt! The inner critic may say something like, “You good-for-nothing, get off your ass and do something productive.” Whatever the words, the basic message is clear; “Unless I am producing, I am worthless.” G and I agreed we were both programmed with this basic message from an early age.
I was domesticated with a number of beliefs that support my over-functioning. Words like these came frequently from my father’s mouth; “Idle hands are the devil’s playground.” “Good luck is the result of hard work.” “Never give up.” “If you work hard enough, you can have anything you want.” And this rhyming gem, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest. Until your good is better and your better is best.”
G and I talked about the role of the mind with regard to work. My attitude about what I am doing has everything to do with whether it is life-giving or life-taking. If I approach a task with a negative mind-set, doing it but wishing I was not, it is the feeling of resistance that is energy draining. If I do the same job with full presence, creating a mind-set of acceptance and appreciation for any aspect of the moment, perhaps gratitude that I am physically able to do this job, the joy that arises is energy giving.
When I stop and rest, I have learned to tune into the first-level sensory experience of my body. I ask myself, “What am I feeling right now?” As I “listen” to my body, it tells me how it is feeling, what its needs are, and how it feels about whatever I am doing. The challenge I face, is honoring what I hear. The message of my body may be in competition with the tapes of my domestication. I am learning to quiet the voice of my inner critic and follow the advice of my body and it has been a long journey of self-discovery to get to this place.
If I am able to discover my life passion and align it with purpose and persistence, the definitions of work and play dissolve and all efforts towards my goal become joyful and life enhancing. As I continue to practice “full body presence”, the voice of my inner critic gets more and more quiet and I am able to hear and honor the needs of my body.
More about Suzanne Scurlock Durana can be found at http://www.fullbodypresence.com.
- Meditation Monday ~ Feeling The Body From Within (beyoutifulliving.com)
- A Glimpse of Buddhist Psychology. ~ Lama Thubten Yeshe (elephantjournal.com)