Like other items I’ve found in the garden, this bench was completely concealed by jasmine. I barely noticed the scroll arm through the greenery and knew right away that another discovery awaited me. Again, I grabbed some gardening tools and started trimming and raking. I cut back the jasmine just enough to pull the bench from the remaining vines that grasped it.
I moved the bench to the meditation garden where I am in the process of rethreading the seat with fiber rush. This garden treasure invites me to sit, rest, and reflect. That hasn’t always come easy to me. I often feel like I ought to be doing something else.
My personal therapist (yes, of course, therapists get therapy too) also invites me to sit, rest, and reflect. One aspect of my therapeutic training focused on “therapeutic contracts” and defining how we would both know when therapy is over (because the clearly defined goals have been met). Luckily, I have other aspects of training that have balanced this emphasis. As I write “contracting” sounds so clinical, yet it can be done very subtly and powerfully.
Most clients know what they don’t want to feel, think, or do and have a hard time envisioning what they want instead. This is where contracting really holds its power.
I want to feel peaceful (instead of “I don’t want to feel anxious.”).
I want to speak kindly to myself—say things like, “I am OK even if I mess up” (instead of saying, “Why am I so stupid? I mess up everything!”).
I want to rest and read books (instead of “I want to stop beating myself up about all the things I did wrong that day.”).
My therapist reminded me about the power of being with through presence and witnessing. When she’d ask me how my week went and I mentioned that I didn’t make time for writing, she didn’t ask, “How did you stop yourself?” Instead, when I suggested I was self-sabotaging, she reminded me to be gentle and honor the rest I chose instead. She reminded me of everything I had to put my energy into to get through the pandemic and virtual school. She reminded me of recent traumas. She suggested I wisely chose rest and restoration and suggested I don’t devalue that with words like “self-sabotage.”
“You never hear men talking about self-sabotage! As women, we are taught to take responsibility for everything …” she said.
She modeled complete acceptance of me and invited me to sit with myself as she was sitting with me.
Now, as I am finding myself making the changes I’ve been wanting to make for months, perhaps a couple of years, (without a single moment of “contracting” I am thinking about ending my therapy.
I won’t, however, end the practice of exquisite rest …
I’ll list some of the ways we put off making time for rest and the creative process involved with our own goals. Notice if any of these sound familiar. If they do, simply notice them when they occur. Don’t judge. Don’t wonder about “self-sabotage.” Instead, acknowledge it. Then, check out whether or not you’d prefer to do something different to interrupt the pattern.
I’ll do that just as soon as I finish this (clean the house, for example).
I can’t do that until I get this just right (the pursuit of perfection).
I’ll do that tomorrow (after I have had the time to schedule it).
I’ll start Monday.
If I do that something bad will happen.
It’s OK for me to create space for others but not myself.
My worth and value reside in what I do (for others, to earn money, etc.)
People who take time for that are lazy.
If I rest, I might feel what I am avoiding.
If I rest, everything will fall apart.
I can’t rest because I am the only competent one.
The fatigue you are feeling is not just you. We are being squeezed by the increasing frequency of challenges, difficulties, and tragedies at the systemic level. Yes, aspects of our world are changing. They may even be falling apart. (Some of them need to.)
Get the support you need to let go of the myths that grip you and invite you to carry the weight of the world on your shoulders … to hold falling outdated and outgrown structures in place for those who benefit most from them.
Carve out time for exquisite rest. The emerging systems need that whisper in your heart to be transformed into action. Creativity is a form of action. Make time for it to find its voice and speak to you so it can speak through you. Every heart whisper deserves the rest and nurture it needs to manifest.
I know I am listening to mine when I don’t feel like I ought to be doing something else.
Instead, I feel I am right where I need to be in this moment. I feel the way I feel right now.