Occupy: Yourself

“Lift your legs over your head into a handstand” instructed my yoga teacher from the front of the room.

I went to lift my legs as I had done hundreds of times and… they wouldn’t lift.

What had happened? Where was my strength? My flexibility?

A former gymnast who did backbends at the drop of a hat, I couldn’t understand how my body had let me down.

As I lay on the floor feeling flummoxed and, frankly, embarrassed, I realized it had been over 6 months since I’d done yoga. My life had gotten out of control. I’d gone from home to car to desk to home, non-stop. And all the while I’d been sitting at the computer navigating my life like a fighter pilot in training.

I hadn’t had a massage in months. I was eating crap, drinking too much and spending far too much time inside my own head. And on top of all that, I’d gained weight.

Somehow, without noticing, I had completely abandoned my body.

It was time to Occupy Myself.

I signed up for a Conscious Nutrition class and started drinking Kale green smoothies for breakfast and paying attention to where, what and how I ate.

I re-committed to walking the dog up the hill every morning, even if it was rainy and cold. Winter was no excuse. I started back to yoga, and got a massage.

And I began to notice all the places I was not in my body. That was scary.

Not in my body while driving. Not in my body while talking on the phone. Not in my body while busily hanging out on Facebook.

I was not there. No wonder things weren’t working like they used to.

I also had compassion for myself. Being here fully, showing up for ourselves and others is not always easy. There is stress to deal with, aging parents, managing the bills, making clients happy, the daily commute.

And we seem to be living in times of more chaos, more stress than ever before.

I notice my clients saying things like, “When life gets back to normal.”

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but this is the new normal. And we are all going to have to learn to live our lives differently to accommodate it, rather than (as I had been doing) living the illusion that if I just work late one more night, work through one more lunch or give up one more weekend, I’ll get on top of my everything and be all caught up and then I can relax and we can go back to “normal.”

Not going to happen people.

So here is my Stand for the New Normal:

Chaos is a fact of life. Instead of running to catch up, find the places you can slow down. Connect with yourself and others. Listen to people. Go to bed early. Read a book. Take a bath. Close your eyes and sit still for ten minutes. Studies show that as little as ten minutes a day can have a huge impact. I found this little CD for ten-minute meditations

Nature has time management down. Learn from it. Walk among the trees, sit on a bench and notice the birds, lie on the grass, feel the earth’s rhythm. It’s a lot slower than our chaotic running about. Learn to entrain with that rhythm.

Go out and play BEFORE you finish your chores. I don’t know about you, but my childhood mantra was “Do your chores before you go out to play. Do your homework before you can watch TV.” Basically it was all about getting the work done. Have you noticed that when you grow up there’s always work to be done and chores to be tackled? They will never be finished and you will never play. Decide now to make playfulness and fun a priority. Go dancing, bang on a drum, play scrabble.

We all know this, we have heard this, but I will say it here again, to remind you and me: When we are lying on our deathbed we will not regret the things we didn’t get done. We will regret having been too busy to play Monopoly with our 9-year old niece and screaming at our husband that he forgot to take out the garbage and telling the dog, who was woefully looking at us, “just one more email and then I’ll take you for a walk.” I know you know what I’m talking about.

LIVE life. Don’t DO life. ‘Nuff said.

Now go Occupy Yourself.