Now that I’m through active breast cancer treatment and my daughter is three, I have more time for everything – yoga, work, cooking, creativity, friends, fun. It’s awesome. And, it can also be a little crazymaking. So, lately, when I’ve got childcare and I’m running around town like a fiendish little elf trying to check through my to-do list, I’ve found that I have to stop and ask myself the simple question, ‘What nourishes you?’
I typically have to ask the question when it dawns on me that, realistically, I’ll be lucky if I get halfway through my to-do list. And all of that adrenaline and excitement is going to turn into stress and irritability and a feeling of not enough-ness — not enough time, not enough accomplished, not enough perfection. When I find myself in this spiral, it usually means my nervous system is completely jacked up.
Have you ever noticed your jacked up mind and nervous system weaving its way into your yoga practice? That happens to me from time to time, too. Ironically, it typically happens when I’ve been practicing often and my body is feeling more capable and agile. I might be toodling along, warming up my outer hips for an arm balance when suddenly my mind goes into hyperdrive about the arm balance. ‘Will I feel strong today? Will I get my hip off my elbow today? If not today, then when?’
For me, the bottom line is: There is an extremely fine line between doing and overdoing. When the scales tip and our inner drive consumes us to do more or be more, we become distracted. We miss the moments that are right in front of us. We forget to kiss our loved ones hello. We don’t smile and connect with our next door neighbor. We wolf down our food without tasting it. We just generally stop enjoying life because we’re stuck in our world of planning and doing.
When I’m in this zone, the best way to consistently bring myself back to the present is to ask myself, ‘What nourishes you?‘ In other words, what can I do that would slow me down and feel good? What would take me out of my head and into my senses or my body? I’ve learned to do this as a way to pause. And remember. That life is not a race, it’s something to be savored.
The answer doesn’t have to be within my yoga practice. Sometimes it’s the perfect cup of coffee in my favorite café. Sometimes it’s a quiet moment in my backyard listening to the birds. Sometimes it’s a big glass of wine with a girlfriend. Sometimes it’s dancing in my living room. Sometimes it’s putting my computer down at night and cuddling with my husband.
When I ask myself this question, it’s a way of saying to myself:
• Be kind to yourself
• Silence the inner critic
• Place yourself in high regard
• Enjoy your life; allow time for happiness and pleasure
It’s a way to tip the scales back from feeling unnecessarily stressed and incomplete to feeling calm and capable and whole. And if I can do all the things on that list for myself – be kind, place myself in high regard, encourage happiness – then I am much more likely to spread that out into the world and do the same for others.
Whatever nourishing thing I choose, asking the question always, always changes the way I experience my day.