I returned home Sunday evening from a glorious few days of resting and recharging in the Tillamook Forest. Mike, Luna and I luxuriated in a life without clocks, texts, or emails (a regular occurrence for Luna ;). We woke up with the sun and brewed tea. Warm tea always tastes better while sitting outside on a cool morning. We hiked mystery trails not knowing where they went, and sometimes where we were. We ate our first meal when the sun was nearing its high point, and then made our way to a swimming hole in the Wilson River. There we swam in the crisp and clear, gently flowing water, and when sufficiently cooled, we warmed ourselves on the perfectly sculpted, smooth rocks. When the sun began its descent below the canopy of the trees, we found a comfy spot to read (non-yoga!) books, and napped. After about 24 hours of this rhythm, my internal pace began to shift gears.
Sometimes it feels like I have speed trapped in my body. This concept of “trapped speed” in the body is something I heard Tias Little talk about once in an interview. There’s a cultural tendency in the US to move really fast all of the time. Speediness, productivity, and accomplishments are valued. They’re held in esteem more highly than taking care of our personal needs of rest, nourishment, and self-care.
This societal focus is detrimental to our health and wellness. Rushing through life dulls our light and hinders our joy. And, even when we understand this on an intellectual level, it’s so easy to get stuck in this mode, and then sucked back into the rat race once our scheduled “vacation” is over.
After my time in the forest, I enjoyed a buffer day to acclimate. I did a little bit of work to prepare for the rest of the week, but mostly I nested back into my home. I practiced, gathered food, made delicious meals, lounged, read and snuggled with my sweeties. When I heard my inner critic making judgements about my “productivity”, I was able to recognize its efforts as a misguided attempt to support my well-being, and make a conscious decision to not listen to it. Turning down the volume of the inner critic isn’t always this easy. I find that when my cup is full, and my resiliency is high, I have a greater ability to access my intuitive and wise self. When I’m feeling over-worked and depleted, often the inner critic is all I can hear.
As our summer in the Pacific Northwest will inevitably transition to the cool breezes of autumn, I encourage you to take some time to slow down. The energy of this time of year is naturally slower. There’s a reason we have the term “lazy summer days”. Late summer beckons us to nap in the shade of a tall tree, to stare up into the star-filled night sky, and to linger in the cool water of a river, all without an agenda. However, sometimes FOMO seeps in and we can find ourselves frantically trying to fit in those last summer activities we haven’t checked off our list (or checked enough times) before the rain returns.
Notice when you’re moving too fast, when you feel trapped speed in your tissues, or when the inner critic starts blabbing about not being “productive”. In those moments you have a choice: you can allow the momentum of speed to push you away from the present moment, or you can choose instead, to immerse yourself in a pleasurable sensory experience. Allow the rose bush you pass on your walk to romance you. Invite the sun to warm your bones. Surrender more fully into the support of earth holding you. Look, listen, smell, taste and touch the beauty all around you.