"Don’t just do something, sit there!" – Unknown
If there is one thing that we can all agree on, the fresh upbeat nature of a new year is different for 2021. No one is hitting the gym, making travel plans, going to networking events - or even back to work or school in the same capacity. Whichever way you look at it - the start of 2021 is much slower.
For some of us this can cause a great deal of angst. I'm just ready to get on with it! Seemed to be the vibe for many of us - last week especially. This unknowing, and relative lack of momentum can be really challenging in our culture of over achievers.
But what if we look at this slower start as an opportunity to just take a deep breath, start slower, and recognize what an actual opportunity it is to slow down?
If you look back (not too far) - many of us were running at a pace that was not sustainable. Our nervous systems are jacked through the roof with a mentality that is all about more, more, more. Even if you call yourself a minimalist - the list of things to 'get done' is typically far from minimal. For better or for worse, the rug has been swept out from underneath us - and here we are - still at home. If we're lucky.
We're not downplaying the tremendous events that have gone down to get us here, nor are we diminishing the suffering it has caused. All we are saying is if there has ever been a time to revaluate your relationship with the go getting - well, the time is now.
There is an undeniable shift happening at this moment in time, and while we can't say that we necessarily have our fingers on what exactly is happening - what we do know, is that staying as grounded as possible has never been more important. We are being swept into a digital age unlike anything we've ever experienced. The physical connection that we took for granted is much less organic. Electronics are running our lives and businesses on the next next level. And news has outpaced anything that is humanly possible to keep up with. You would have to have your head under a rock not to feel this, and if your reading this - you're probably well aware.
So what do we think can be done about it?
Connecting to the physical body, and remembering what we are. A human body, designed to move, breath and be connected with other human beings.
The combination of breath and movement - whether it be yoga, hiking, walking, or just simply stretching around on your floor - is one of the best ways to calm your central nervous system and improve your ability to process information. When we are processing in an inflamed state we are effectively NOT thinking clearly.
What is the most common advise to give someone that is angry? "Take a deep breath." Why? This isn't some old wives tale, it is an innate understanding of the physiology of how the brain works. Breath calms the brain. A calm brain processes information more objectively, with less chaos.
What we do to the body we do to the brain. Our nervous system has evolved for us to move, and breathe, in accordance with those movements.The structure of the brain has a lot to do with the internalization of movement. The thing that makes us think is the thing that makes us move - so the brain and mind are connected to the body. By moving, we influence how thought is processed or produced. And when we influence the way thought is processed, we can influence our perceptions.
We all have the habit of believing that what we think is right, without assessing our state of being when those thoughts are produced. If you're angry and breathing rapidly - a succession of angry thoughts will typically follow. If you're in a state of greater calm - chances are your perception of things will be more nuanced and objective. We've all heard a million times that exercise and meditation are good for us, but there is starting to be more scientific understanding as to why that is.
In the past we moved and meditated naturally. Jobs were physical, most people had some sort of religious affiliation to equate meditation - and there were no laptops, social media or blue screens to keep us hyped up at all hours of the day. There was a natural flow.
Of course some stress is good, and some mentality of achievement is good. After all, we've gotten to where we are by constantly striving to improve things, and many of those things have been positive. But here in 2021, before we jump ship on any connection to the human body whatsoever and move into a completely digital age - we'd like you to take a deep breath.
In our culture we are addicted to the fight or flight vibe. The picture of someone sitting around taking a deep breath is instantly triggering - the cliche of calm.
What about momentum?! What about productivity? What about doing things?
Well friends, we hope we're not the first to tell you - but momentum looks a little different right now. Again, take a deep breath and start slow.
Photo credit: Paul Hanaoka