Sometimes you need to slow down to speed up?
How can “doing nothing” actually be very productive?
Do you ever have those times when no matter what you try you just can’t seem to muster the energy to be super productive? The alarm clock sounds like the most obnoxious racket in the world as you desperately seek to hide under your covers for at least 2-3 more minutes, when you wish it were hours. You have a plan and you know what you need to do, but you want to do nothing. No visualization, meditation or healthy smoothie in the world can change the feeling of needing to slow down and get less off your plate. Your body is talking to you and wants you to do less.
Then there are other times when nothing can stop you!
You are up and at ‘em, ready to rock and ready for more. Ideas and implementation flow from you. Results and outcomes abound. You feel proud to say what you are up to. You are posting all of your wonderful accomplishments on social media. When you see friends at parties, you are happy to share what you’re up to. Your dedicated hard work and busy life are far more celebrated and accepted so you are happy to share: While your slower, less generative opposite state of non-doing, rest, regenerating takes the backseat and isolation seems like the only option.
So what’s up with these two extremes? How can we ride the productivity waves of generating, and also feed our being with times of rest and reflective incubating?
As a society, we don’t value the ‘do nothing’ times. In fact, we are usually shamed by it and don’t talk about it, let alone post pictures of our messy desk and unkempt hair on Facebook saying “look how unproductive I am today.” Hardly.
The rest periods are not celebrated whatsoever in our society, especially when it is not some fabulous vacation, or the ever-popular picture in a designer outfit in front of the Eiffel tower, or an Instagram of a fancy yoga pose. We applaud and ‘like’ the “look what I can do” world of tangible moments that can be shared publicly, as if on some level we need to prove, to someone or everyone, our use of time is not wasted or irrelevant. We do this mostly from our inability to feel worthy whether we are ‘doing’ or not. On a mass scale, we only feel conditionally worthy. It is time for us to start feeling worthy just because, whether we are incubating or generating. Both are part of us, both are relevant.
Generating – Latin generat- ‘created,’ creating results, produce (energy, especially electricity)
Regenerating- from Latin regeneratus ‘created again’, regrow. bring into renewed existence; generate again.
When we try to bust through these natural ebbs and flows, that are so apparent everywhere else in nature, we can cause physical and mental illness. ‘Off’ time, me time, rest, pausing and space are integral to our health.
The space between the heart beats, the seasons, night and day, death and rebirth are all examples of the natural flow of life; of rhythm. For some odd reason, burn out is like a badge of honour in our modern society, “Look how much I’m doing. I’ve made myself sick and have had no time for anything I truly love.
I definitely don’t have time for silly things like self-care and joy or that trip I always wanted to take.” Is that ‘productivity’ worth the cost? Is it as productive as riding the ebbs and flows?
Perhaps, slowing down, even stopping, can create better outcomes than grinding through no matter what. What a crazy idea, eh? Maybe life’s intelligence is pretty darn smart.
Incubation – an environment for optimal conditions for growth and development.
Latin incubare, the source of incubate, literally meant “lie down on”; incubation once had the sense of sleeping in a sacred place or temple for attaining oracle-like purposes.
Are we brave enough to risk the unknown of RESTING?
Can we trust we are still worthy whether we are doing or not doing?
Can we trust life will work out? Trust that we don’t have to micromanage every millisecond to stay safe or succeed?
The elastic. An example of using nature’s energy.
The more a rubber band stretches, the more energy it stores. When you let go, the rubber band releases the stored energy. As a result, if the rubber band is stretched further, it releases more energy and thus goes further.
Technically, the rubber band is moving back. But it’s actually preparing to propel forward in the desired direction.
The question is: Can you let go?
Ask your body what it wants and needs. Ask it like you were asking a small child a question. Actually listen patiently for an answer to reveal itself from your listening.
Take a nap.
Have a bath – like an obnoxiously long one where you get all pruny.
Watch a movie. Have it tell you a story. Relax.
Read a book (for fun or pleasure).
Go for a walk.
Be in nature.
Turn of all tech, and unplug.
Sing, dance, listen to music.
Meditate – either guided or silent.
Randomly dawdle and follow your inherent impulses. Such as I’m going to clean a drawer, oh- here’s that pamphlet I was looking for, this reminds me of Lisa, I want to call Lisa, call Lisa, have a great chat, go make some food, etc… Going with a non-linear flow. Following the energy.
Lay on the floor, grass, sand… just lay down.
Watch stars, water (river, ocean, rain), clouds…
Eat some comfort food? (only if it’s actually comforting and not an attempt to numb out).
Be in your body and put down the pressures of what you think you should be doing. It will be Ok.
Trust and respect that your body is healing and doing its thang.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter exactly what you do when you are incubating. What matters is that you recognize that this time is important and that it is very intelligent. It is important for the sheer fact that your life’s intelligence via your body and mind’s signals are guiding you. You don’t need to get sick to take time off from the doing.
You don’t need a societally accepted reason to do nothing. What if you just pretended to have a cold, took needed regenerating time, allowed incubation time just because you know you are incubating. Once you’ve learned to listen and trust your natural intelligence, which is tuned in through your body, how much better would 1-2 days off feel knowing that all that good juju energy can just work on your health and wellbeing, rather than fight off a virus so you can go do more. The incubation will not only do more but naturally charge your batteries enough that you can be present and fulfilled while you are doing. Go figure! You can be filled up, present and being AND get shit done.
I HEREBY GIVE YOU PERMISSION TO DO NOTHING.
And from that nothing, you can re-access everything. Cool eh?