I remember that one Spring not long ago when I decided to sell all my belongs and travel weekly. (It’s a long story….)
Well, it lasted about a month. The next month I spent recuperating on a sailboat where I pretty much just slept most of the time!
That outer reality was a reflection of what was going on in my mind. I would pick up and go go go,jumping from one place to the next and one thought to the next until I burnt out. Then, as a counterbalance to all the physical motion and internal commotion all I could do is sleep as my body tried to revitalize itself and my mind tried to put the pieces of what just happened together. (The universe has such an interesting way of teaching me life lessons).
On a theoretical level it’s Yin and Yang in motion.
Yang is doing.Yin is being.
Yang is movement. Yin is stillness.
Yang is Summer. Yin is Winter.
Yang is extroverted. Yin is introverted.
Yang is heat. Yin is cool.
Yang is go go go, do more! Yin is being.
The thing about yin and yang is that they exist within each other. Yang gives rise to yin and yin gives rise to yang. It’s perfect balance and harmony when done well.
It’s a Cycle: You work and rest. You eat and digest. You earn and spend.
The problem is many of us do not do balance well.
When our bodies lack balance and harmony we get dis-ease. Lack of ease, lack of harmony.
When we overuse one muscle or one side of the body the other side becomes weaker and we get tension and overuse injuries.
As a society we are completely yang-ed out.
Sometimes it feels like there’s so much to DO. I don’t just mean the day to day activities either. On top of that there’s this pressure we get to do more (and be more).
I’ll open up my Instagram or Facebook feed and scroll like a madwoman through upcoming events, cool yoga moves I want to try, fitness classes that are offering a free session, pretty places I want to go, food I want to eat, babies, puppies, sketches, videos, etc. I’ll observe my mind wander and my attention span shrink down to that of a goldfish. (Which studies have found our attention span as a collective has shrunk down to)
We get exhausted.
Not from an awesome workout, but because our minds are always going- thinking, planning, acting, and reacting. Overthinking can literally wear you out. Stress you out, and make you gain unwanted flab due to an increase in stress hormones which leads to sugar cravings. It’s a vicious cycle!
It’s like burning the candle at both ends. We constantly want to do more, but there’s not enough fuel for the fire or oil in the lamp.
So what’s the solution?
Well, if you’ve been reading my posts lately or work with me you probably know the answer.
Meditation and mindfulness.
I’m learning in my Fundamentals of Oriental Medicine class about the three treasures: Qi (life force), Shen (spirit), and Jing (essence). Our kidneys house Jing. When we are stressed and keep pushing on all levels we leak jing. Jing is like the oil in the lamp. So if you keep lighting yourself on fire without replenishing the oil it’s lights out for you!
And now, we will finally speak about that staycation!
Recently, I experienced the amazing benefits of putting this all into practice with a staycation as I unplugged and unwound at home. I was invited to a 90’s hip hop costume party and despite my intrigue and desire to bust out a pair of MC Hammer pants I politely declined.
I cleaned my apartment, lit candles, and made a delicious healthy dinner for myself at home. I did a yoga flow and meditation and went to bed early. The awareness to do this and honoring the messages from my body that it was needed helped me make strides towards freedom in body and mind.
I was blessed with more energy in my body and more stillness in my mind. In a visceral way I saw how the yin (stillness) gave birth to the yang (movement) and how the yang needs the yin.
Here’s a step by step guide to have a staycation in body and mind to stay in harmony!
- Be aware of the stressors in your life by tuning into your breath and body signals
- Eliminate or reduce the stress!
I like to keep it simple and encourage you to seek within for your personal answers and methods, but here are some specifics that I find very useful:
- Practice Pratyahara: This is the fifth limb of yoga and it means retraction of the senses. This boils down to being neutral. You see an amazing sunset, you hear a plane overhead, you stub your toe- it’s all good. Your senses aren’t pulling you any which way and are not begging for attention or your reaction. You have the ability to go inward and reside in a state of pure being and luminous consciousness so on the exterior you remain peaceful and calm. This happens naturally when we meditate- really meditate- no planning or bargaining. The senses are withdrawn and absorbed in meditation so your entire being can flood towards the Self. It’s no coincidence I’m becoming aware of this limb. In my ashtanga yoga practice I’m getting closer to being able to do supta kurmasana also known as sleeping tortoise pose. I can now just barely clasp my fingers behind my back. The whole feet behind the head thing is a different story! This pose is literally asking me to be like the tortoise be able to go within my shell despite all the distractions in the environment. It opens the hips and stretches the low back- home of the kidneys- home of jing! (oil for the flame).
- Unplug: Take a break from social media and technology or at least employ a cut off time. Aim not to check emails or scroll through feeds 1-2 hours before bed or first thing in the morning. Use it as a tool not as a crutch.
- Practice saying NO: We live in a culture that encourages us to constantly do more. You have to know deep down within that you are enough and you have everything you need. Listen to your gut instincts, don’t overcommit, and say NO when you need to and stick with it.
- Be gentle with yourself: Treat yourself well. Nurture your body with healthy food, mindful movement, time in nature, and nourish your mind with positive thoughts. Perhaps journal or read spiritual or inspiration texts.
- Release FOMO (fear of missing out): There’s always going to be a myriad of things you COULD do, but if you’re listening and living from your heart whatever you are doing in the present moment is just right! Trust!!!!
That’s all for now. In the meantime, I’ll be trying to get my feet behind my head… 😛