When was the last time you really let yourself rest? Everyone talks about unplugging for a day but can you remember the last time you didn't have a cell signal for 3 days? More? The kind of rest that comes with a long weekend in the backcountry (if you're into that kind of thing), or just time away doing what you love or nothing at all - the key is no cell service or WIFI.
It's so important - now more than ever - to create the space to let your mind wander. Even if all your mind wants to do is replay an event, a situation over and over, it's the start of a process of letting go. Now, I know that doesn't sound ideal, sitting around listening to the broken record in your head, but it's an important part of the process of letting go, getting quiet, and listening to your heart.
A few years ago, my older sister and I went to a women's yoga retreat at a hot spring in Northern California. As I drove to the retreat, the road twisted and turned, right into what felt like the belly - wooded, beautiful, quiet, comforting and remote. We stayed in a yurt where there was no cell service and no WIFI. My first night there, I sat in bed at 6 pm reading magazines by myself. It was dark out, so finally, after an hour of total boredom, I turned in and didn't wake up until 9 am the next morning. It had been a while since I'd slept like that.
As the retreat unfolded, so did I. The space felt so safe. Surrounded by wonderful, supportive women, I was able to move through the process of letting go, forgiving, and healing. (If you're interested, I highly recommend checking out www.Katiesilcox.com - she led the retreat.) While I expected Vinyasa like all of the other Type A's there, it was pretty much the opposite. Katie knew that's what we all were expecting, and chuckled lovingly, "All you Northern California girls - you're always so tough, so strong - you have everything handled. Let's let our guard down for a few days. Ok and fine, I'll give you a few sun salutations but that's it." For me, sitting quietly and leaning into the unexpected was uncomfortable, risky, weird and amazing all rolled up together.
A friend told me recently that in Japanese culture, they believe that your mind waits until it's quiet to resolve challenges, obstacles and the chatter that is often playing on repeat. And, for those who've struggled with sleep for as long as I have, you probably know when that happens. Yes, that's right -- 2-3am. I'm right there with you.
And you probably already know the answer about how to best move through that process - for you. It could be meditation, yoga, long walks, journaling, talking with friends, or just totally unplugging. So then, why is it so hard not to? Well, for me, it boils down to fear. It can be downright awful, hard, painful, sad, maddening to face those thoughts. I mean, who really wants to melt down in a yoga class? And yes, that has happened to me - it's probably happened to all of us.
When you get quiet and lean in, everything quiets down. And when you do it consistently, you'll find you can finally sleep. And because of that, you'll be a better version of yourself so you can show up for others in a loving way - as a parent/friend/colleague/boss.
This time of year is the perfect time to take time for yourself, to go inward, to process, lean in and practice some good, loving self-care. Whether it's an hour a day, or a week-long retreat, fill up your cup first and ask for the support from your partner, friends, and family to take that time and be with yourself. It might just be the best hour (day, week) you've had in a long time.