I’ve believed for sometime now that we’re often handed forced downtime when we don’t take it ourselves.
Illness and injury seem to be two things that creep into life when we know that we need to slow down…but don’t.
We’re forced to drink in our breath (or take it in the form of tiny, cough-filled sips), and we’re encouraged to rest sore backs or stuffy heads.
And maybe these things are just nature taking its course, or the way things happened at the moment and, obviously, there’s a biological component of stress and fatigue and illness. And yet.
And yet, I find, within my own life, that I’ve often felt a strongly metaphysical reason for my physical illness.
So what do we do when our rest isn’t something we should perhaps consider anymore, but something that we have to do, due to illness or injury?
We do this.
We take the time to assess how slowing down benefits us.
Yes, it might not be ideal, but, simultaneously, life often has both blessings and ugliness and what we choose to focus our energy on is the direction we tend to follow.
In other words, if I choose to witness my restful period as something luxurious (even when hacking up a lung or two) or as a time for self-care, then I’ll get so much more out of it than if I’d seen this time only as a pain in the rear.
I’ve skipped out on yoga class for a few days now, frankly, because I can’t breathe well. That said, focusing on our breath—or even its difficulty—can help us cultivate awareness of our current self and situation. And, though not on a mat, I often find myself practicing better “yoga” when actually living my life in this manner.
We learn to sit still.
Let me share with you one of my favorite quotes:
“To be idle requires a strong sense of personal identity.” ~Robert Louis Stevenson
It takes a person who knows—and securely welcomes—herself to be able to contentedly sit in the quietude of the moment and just be.
Use your forced sick-leave wisely by spending time to get reacquainted with yourself and by practicing both self-awareness and self-acceptance.
We let go of the to-do list.
I’ve written before about how life is not a to-do list, because it isn’t.
Life isn’t a journey either.
I recently shared this idea, in the form of a picture I made, because I’m honestly also getting sick of the whole “life is a journey and not a destination” thing. Why? I’ll tell you. (But, first, look at the picture, as I think my explanation will become pretty obvious.)
I get that “life is a journey” is supposed to represent life as something we walk through rather than run towards, but, at the same time, I still think a better imagery for the way that I personally want to live my life involves footprints and slow, intentional steps.
I want to leave footprints on the hearts of the people I love most, by sharing with them daily my complete presence. Easier said than done—so I’ll use my downtime to help myself remember how much more peaceful and enjoyable life is when I focus on the sensations of picking my foot up and placing it back down and not on getting ready to lift my other foot back up.
And, of course, life is also more pleasant when we’re healthy. But, as we all walk towards autumnal air, I’m deciding to offer up that we let our lives feel full in every moment, even those less-than-ideal ones.
I’m suggesting, too, that we wake up and drink in where we are, even if our “journey” took a detour.
And I’m going to be a proponent for taking that downtime before it’s forced upon us, and the best way to do this is by repeatedly looking into our invisible mirrors and taking the time to really see who, and where, we are.
Photo: Andres Nieto Porras at Flickr
This article was first published by elephant journal.