Today I am exhausted. My throat is sore, my glands are swollen and every part of my body is aching and tired. I know these feelings of old. This is a path I have travelled so many times that it has become a clear, wide track. That pattern of go, go, go; do, do, do; busy, busy busy: ignoring all the signs that it is time to slow down, to stop and breathe until my body gives up and forces me to rest. Yet today is different, there is an invitation in my exhaustion. I know somewhere deep inside that rest is not the antidote but that somewhere deep within is suppressed creativity that yearns to get out; buried emotion causing the constriction in my neck and the headache that slows me down and makes it impossible to concentrate. So today I choose not to reach for the painkillers but also not to give in fully to the exhaustion and collapse in bed in order to give that clear sign to my husband and daughters that MUMMY IS POORLY AND NEEDS LOOKING AFTER.
What if I can do my own looking after? What if I can show myself self love? What does that look like? Can I take care of my needs without having to be so ill that I take to my bed and withdraw fully from my life? What do I need today? What does my body need? My soul? What do I have to do and what do I want to do today? I realise I want to join in with the activity afternoon at my daughters’ school – it’s not an obligation, it’s a choice I want to make, so this morning I must nurture myself. I must listen to the message from my body and answer the invitation from my soul.
Two years ago I went on a retreat at Findhorn in Scotland. Alone without responsibilities I gave myself permission to practice listening to my heart and following my intuition. From moment to moment I asked myself “what am I moved to do right now” and followed the inner guidance I received. Life unfolded in a magical way when I allowed it to flow through me in this way but how to live like this all the time? How to follow my heart when the to do list is as long as my arm and there are costumes to be made for the school play, cakes to be made bought (I may as well be honest here as I’m baring my soul!) for the end of term picnic, emails to be answered from clients in crisis or celebrating their own successes?
Today is the day to try this. To listen to the invitation from my body to slow down and from my soul to tune in and LISTEN. I lie first on my yoga mat and feel like I might be arrested for not working on a work day! I tell myself this is my work today – to find my centre, my calling, my inspiration that I know lies just under the surface of the discomfort. As I gently move my stiff neck from side to side, tears come easily. I let them flow without judgement, without needing to know why (boy, how I’ve changed in this but that’s a story for another day). I allow my body to move as it needs to move. I yawn, I cry, I feel deeply into the tension I am carrying and allow it to be. Something starts to unravel inside me and I am able to feel the support of the earth beneath me once again. I am able to go with the flow of my breath. I start to come back to myself. I ask the question I did at Findhorn “what am I moved to do right now?” The answer comes immediately “go back to bed with a cup of tea and my copy of I will not die an unlived life”.
So I do just that. I curl up under the duvet fully clothed and open this beautiful book. I read the poem that always touches somewhere deep inside me. And then I find this:
“The antidote to exhaustion may not be rest. It may be wholeheartedness. You are so exhausted because all the things you are doing are just busy-ness. There’s a central core of wholeheartedness totally missing from what you’re doing”
So that’s why I am now writing this, because I know that writing is what I need to be doing right now with my whole heart and I have been avoiding it with busy-ness and bitterness and plain old resentment. I want to share my stories and hope that they will inspire others to live more fully, more authentically, with joy and passion and purpose. This is the challenge I give myself. Today I have accepted that invitation from my soul. Have you? Would you like to? Then just begin. Slow down until you can ask the question of your heart:
“What am I moved to do right now?”
Please let me know how your heart answers and how you respond…
“I will not die an unlived life” is a beautiful poem and book by Dawna Markova that I would recommend to anyone who is on the journey to re-acquaint themselves with their heart and soul.