I’m resting after a busy (for me) morning of an intense yoga session and jumping back into sewing. Yesterday, I decided to end my recent foray into doing as little as possible. I haven’t played guitar or sewed or cleaned anything other than the dishes or checked my email or pretty much any of the basic tasks that need doing for weeks. I’ve been pondering motivation and being curious about what feels good and what my values are. I made a conscious decision to stop doing almost everything because it felt like every task, even fun things, were motivated by something toxic, old ways of being that no longer serve.
Tired and sore and feeling pretty good about myself, I sat down to watch some Adventure Time (one of my happy, feel good shows) and less than 5 minutes in, I started to feel a sense of panic. I felt my mind starting to zone out. I noticed I was no longer breathing normally. My heart began to flutter and my thoughts were all judgments about me sitting down to take a break.
I’m feeling pretty proud that I noticed this happening in the moment. Rather than letting myself spiral into my sympathetic system and have a panic attack (or falling into the dorsal vagal and dissociating), I took some deep inhales and released the breaths in long, slow exhales. I still felt panicky so I decided to write. And here I am: noticing and exploring. Being curious. What sparked that moment of panic? I think it’s because I decided to take a break rather than complete the masks I was working on. Why do I feel it’s not ok to take breaks? Maybe that’s part of why I decided to do as little as possible for a while. I felt less panic during that period of time because I was avoiding engaging in the push and pull of life. While doing nothing, I didn’t have to worry about judgment because I’d made a conscious decision not to do anything. I’d given myself permission set a hard boundary. Actively deciding to do things again introduces the potential for judgment from outdated automatic negative beliefs.
I must do all the things.
I must keep a clean house.
I must be the perfect mother and meet all of my kids’ needs.
I must be perfect because anything less than that opens up the reality that I have no control over the fact that the abuse I experienced has impacted every aspect of my life. If I am not perfect then I have to accept that those terrible things happened and that I have to live with the effects.
I can see now why I gave myself permission to do as little as possible for a while. I’ve become more aware of the reality of the abuse and how impossible it felt to live with it. I wanted a break from dealing with it. And I probably needed a break to process it. And I think I can honor that.
Now I’m choosing to reenter my life a bit. With intention and curiosity. And here is yet another benefit of the yoga I’ve been practicing for the past several months. When it’s time for me to do yoga, I often dread getting on the mat. I hold that feeling of dread, unroll the mat and start the video. Occasionally, the whole practice feels like a chore but most of the time I feel calm, strong, capable, mindful and connected to myself. Stuff comes up and I’m able to notice it, honor it and allow myself to gently move on and into a different space. Maybe living my life can be like that too. Right now, I feel resistant to doing a chore a day and getting back into things I enjoy. Today, I unrolled the mat of life and practiced. Feelings are coming up, judgments arise and I’m not moving away or shutting down. I’m noticing, honoring and letting myself gently move into a different space.