Day of Rest

My heart and mind have moved in and out of a state of anxiety and discomfort this week. I’ve felt confused and disappointed, bewildered and depressed. I have witnessed a lot of conflict, both internal and external.

  • I watched as a poet schooled people, specifically white people, on how to (and not to) engage with her work. It was painful to read, to dig deeper and see the comments, to know that I was in no way prepared to understand or take part in such a discussion.
  • Another conflict arose around the sharing of one artist’s work by another without credit being immediately given, with the original artist sharing exactly why the situation was problematic. I see this so often, when something could easily be searched, the original author discovered and credited, but we don’t take the time, don’t take it seriously enough.
  • Someone who recently left his teaching position in an MFA program wrote Things I Can Say About MFA Writing Programs Now That I No Longer Teach in One, to which Chuck Wendig wrote a rebuttal, An Open Letter To That Ex-MFA Creative Writing Teacher Dude. Everything about this discussion makes my heart hurt.
  • People argued over the color of a dress, and then many others complained about them wasting time on the issue when there were so many more important things to be thinking and arguing about.
  • A woman who called herself the Wellness Warrior died and a cancer surgeon wrote this article reflecting on her death. The whole thing hurts, is so confusing.
  • MindBodyGreen published this article, 5 Reasons To Eat Gluten (Funny), (I didn’t find it funny at all, less so because it’s written by an author who thinks sugar is evil and claims to have cured her thyroid disorder through her good choices) AND they also published 5 Red Flags That Show You’re Taking Healthy Eating Too Far, which essentially says the exact opposite as the other article. I like this website, but the contradictory information they publish can be so confusing.
  • A writer whose work normally leaves me so inspired, so encouraged, is offering a new program, “not a diet but a DO IT,” and everything about it feels so wrong, makes me so sad. It also just so happened to be National Eating Disorders Awareness Week.
  • I continued to fight with myself about Ringo’s injured toe — thinking I had maybe made a mistake not taking him to the vet when it first happened, unsure if it was going to heal, worried it would get infected, watching how I obsessed over needing to be right and in control. When I wasn’t fussing about that, I was worried I’d have to cancel my Saturday morning yoga class again due to weather, and I was a little relieved by the possibility, which I immediately felt guilty for.
  • I seem to be hellbent on running myself completely ragged — Feast, the Open Heart Project, the Daily Dharma Gathering, teaching yoga, more yoga teacher training, reading all the books, practicing, studying, blogging, a demanding job that keeps asking for more, a body that is tired tired tired, a mind and heart that are bewildered.

I know that for many people, most of these conflicts would be intellectually interesting but not have a real impact. Many other people can observe these things from a distance, manage to not take them personally. I’m not like that. I’m porous. When there is discord, I’m like a tuning fork that responds, echoing the pain from somewhere deep inside of me. When I was feeling at my worst this week, had sunk down to that place of “why should I even bother?”, I saw this. A sweet little short film that captured exactly what it can feel like to be me.

I need to check myself before I wreck myself. I am attempting a major shift to a whole new paradigm, and I need to be gentle with myself. This is going to take time. I remind myself that there are three stages to knowing: first you know something intellectually, then you feel it, and then, finally, you embody it. I have to remind myself how deeply worn the groove is of my habitual patterns, deep ruts worn into my brain, a connection between first thought and action that is lightning speed, and to interrupt it would be like trying to get off a a roller coaster half way through the ride. It’s such a long process to shift things and it’s easy to get impatient, to feel like it’s never going to happen.

The best I can do for now is to try and keep from generating more suffering. I can continue to practice, to simply be with myself and allow things to arise without an agenda. Rest in the moment, relax into basic goodness. Rest, relax, release, surrender. May we all be gentle with ourselves, kind and gentle reader, as we do the things that are not simple, not easy, but still so important.

11 thoughts on “Day of Rest

  1. Mary

    Trust yourself, Dear One … if it doesn’t feel good, it probably isn’t good. At least not for you at this moment. Thinking of you and sending love.

  2. lolshelley

    Stop. Breathe Jill. I felt exactly like you a few weeks ago. Too many things piling on top of me, trying to be ALL things to ALL people. I was stressed. I was snappy (just ask my kids) and I was totally spent. I felt guilty because I knew I should be meditating and writing but my brain was in a state of overwhelm and I could do neither. The guilt only compounded my sense of being out of control. My neck went out and I had a month of physio. Each time the physio would comment on how tense my neck was. Then I stopped. I breathed. I said to myself “you can’t keep going this way.” And little by little, everything settled down. Or perhaps it wasn’t the situation that changed, it was me. I had dishes piled in the sink, the washing basket was overflowing but it was my ‘day off’. No one else was home. So I stopped. And I spent the whole day flitting between the kettle and the lounge with a good book. And it saved me. Sending hugs.x

  3. Carrie Lamanna

    I know how you feel. I’ve been pretty overwhelmed with the word lately too. I posted to Facebook what I thought was just a funny blog post about parenting and had a friend and one of her friend’s, who I don’t know, jump all over me about how horrible the blog post was implying I was a bad person for liking it. It got to me in really unexpected ways and felt like I had to defend myself when I was totally unprepared for it and responded poorly, I think. And that creative writing debate is making me sad all over again. It all makes me want to go hide in bed. Why can’t we all be kind and generous with each other? We are not weird people. We just want a soft and gentle world to live in.

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      I know the article you are talking about, and it’s on my Something Good list this week because I thought it was funny and true and important. The pushback you got about it is exactly what the author is complaining about — that people are told to take it and appreciate it and not complain. Be a good girl. Be quiet. Be nice. Suck it up. Enough of that nonsense for a long enough time makes some of us want to say “fuck off.” We are not weird people. ❤

      1. Carrie Lamanna

        Thanks Jill. After I posted here I went on to read your Something Good post and saw the link there. I can’t tell you how much better it made me feel. There are so many great things on your list this week.

  4. aramaticasper

    Yes, breathe 🙂

    Also, I find it an interesting process of embodying where I am at a given time, without cementing that identity. You may be, and feel porous now. But, one day you might suddenly notice that you’re not as porous as before (or not.) It is an interesting balancing act, being where we are without being attached to an identity of where we are, while still doing what we need to care for ourselves where we are. I love how asana practice is such a great metaphor for caring for ourselves and letting ourselves grow, and how each day our experience in ourselves is different. I always find it a bit mind-blowing when I just assume I can’t do a given pose and then suddenly discover something shifted and I can, even though I haven’t tried it in a really long time. (Or vice versa, something has shifted and the pose doesn’t work the way you expect it to).

    1. jillsalahub Post author

      It is super interesting to watch myself, to see how my mind spins off, how I am triggered and slip into habitual patterns. What ultimately is more interesting about how I react to conflict isn’t how awful I feel about it but looking at what is actually underneath that, what I’m really responding to. For example, the thing with Ringo’s toe is all about a basic misunderstanding — thinking that if I am diligent and prepared and do all the right things, he’ll never get hurt, and that making a mistake in that case is the worst thing ever. So, I watch, practice awareness, notice, am mindful, but sometimes I spin out anyway, and just have to be gentle with myself when I do. There definitely are two of each of us — the relative being, the small self who gets so caught up and bewildered, and the deeper, wise and compassionate one.


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