Lately I have had a lot on my plate. My to-do list each day is way too long, and at the end of the day, I sometimes see myself feeling frantic and starting to rush, and also getting rather grouchy. I’m sure some of you can relate.
I know better. We all know better! Yet somehow we allow ourselves to get sucked into the drama of our lives, our checklists, and need to get things accomplished. I know this pattern well: I can do it all. I can tough it out, do one thing after another without a break, for days on end. Fit it all in, check things off my list. Then I find myself grumpy and sad, and feeling a little sick.
I know better. I have to slow down a little and take care of myself. And I have to take care of my Self.
Yet, unfortunately, like many of us, I start to cut corners. I grab fast food and forgo physical activity. I skip or cut corners on my practices. I don’t give myself or my Self the love, respect, and support I need. Keeping my body, heart, and spirit, healthy and connected is fundamental to being my most productive self.
If I take the time to take care of myself by getting enough sleep, good food, and exercise, I’m laying the groundwork to do my best. I know this.
But what was less obvious to me, and is becoming much clearer lately, is how essential it is to take care of my Self. That is where my daily practice of meditation comes in. When I meditate, it feels like I clear a channel to my Self: a deeper, fuller, wiser part of me. And that place feeds me in a way not unlike food and exercise.
The access I cultivate in my meditation practice supports all of my other activities so they become less effortful. I cultivate a channel to this Self during my meditation, which serves me during my everyday activities. It is not only a source of wisdom, but of energy, and of perspective as well.
The wisdom helps me in my studies, in my teaching, writing, in so much of my work, including my own personal inner psychological work of clearing out my old unproductive patterns.
Access to a deeper source energy allows my days to be less effortful. I feel like I don’t have to push so hard because it isn’t only “me” doing it, I can channel an unlimited ocean of energy to support me.
And yes, being the human being I am, working within the boundaries of our culture, I have many challenging experiences. And I absolutely can not do it all. But my daily steeping in the quiet of my meditation practice helps me keep a greater perspective. I remember why I am doing what I am doing. And I am less reactive and more able to stay calm.
I know I have a long way to go with all of this, which is why, each morning when I get up, I head to my meditation cushion. I understand how much I need to take care of my Self.
So recently, as I make my to-do list, I include one item that takes care of myself, and one to take care of my Self. I know if I continue to add these things into my life, all of the other things on my list will get done in a much more efficient and easeful manner.
I invite you to try this out. Whenever and however you consider what you need to accomplish in the next period of time, consider as well one thing to better support yourself, and another thing to support the connection to your deeper Self.
If you’re willing to share what these two things are, please do so in the comments below.