In my previous career, anytime I called the IT team with a computer issue, no matter how varied or complicated the problem, their first question was always, "Have you tried turning it off?" It's comical how often this simple fix would do the trick.
To keep them functioning, computers can be restarted and cell phones charged but what about us?
How often do we truly unplug?
Not checking Facebook during lunch or lounging on the couch, squeezing in a Netflix episode before bed but consciously choosing to do NOTHING in order to unwind and restore? No tv, radio, book, food or cell phone. No thoughts about what needs to be done or the length of your to-do list. Just you, your breath and a quiet space to connect to the deeper layers of yourself.
It's so easy to be busy.
It's practically our default setting. Our society glorifies busy like a badge of honor signifying importance, respectability and popularity.
How often is the first response to “How have you been?” a weary “I’ve just been so BUSY. Work is crazy. The kids. . .” and so on? Has anyone ever answered, “I’m great! I have just enough but not too much work and I’m taking lots of time to be in nature and relax”?
It’s comfortable to be busy.
If we move fast enough and find enough distractions, we don’t have to feel or face the fears and feelings beneath the surface.
It's hard to be truly present.
It's not automatic. It's not easy. I recognize that even when I slow down, I don’t actually rest; I simply replace one activity with another. A chronic multi-tasker, I’m often guilty of watching a movie while working on my computer, texting a friend and eating a snack (this may or may not be happening as I write this). While this might be “relaxing,” I’m certainly not restoring. Doing so much and trying to take in so much at once is ultimately overwhelming and even after an evening of unwinding, I feel depleted. Does this sound familiar?
Is it any wonder that we get worn down and sick? That we feel overwhelmed and anxious? That even when we do try to slow down, it feels almost impossible to turn off and be truly present?
While there’s no quick fix for moving from overscheduled, overstimulated and anxious to inner peace and stillness, there are thankfully many tools to help focus, settle and tame the hyperactive mind.
Yoga and mindful breathing are two of the most powerful ones in my personal bag of tricks. Why? Because they give me the space to feel without the need to fix or figure out. To just be present and connect to my spirit, that quiet yet steady, wise inner voice. When I find myself spinning, stuck in a obsessive circle of stress, I know it's time to stop trying to force a solution but to do more by doing less.
In those moments, Yoga Nidra is one of my favorite ways to hit the recharge button.