For far too long we have been seduced into walking a path that did not lead us to ourselves. For far too long we have said yes when we wanted to say no. And for far too long we have said no when we desperately wanted to say yes. . . .
When we don’t listen to our intuition, we abandon our souls. And we abandon our souls because we are afraid if we don’t, others will abandon us.
~Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice
This quote is haunting me. I’ve been feeling this underlying discontent, disquiet. I’ve been sick and there’s always a period of adjustment going from a stressful work situation to suddenly being on vacation, but this has felt like something more. I feel stuck in old patterns of behavior, have no energy, am depressed.
In the Daily Dharma Gathering talk I listened to this morning, Adreanna Limbach talked about the three types of laziness. What she was referring to was laziness from a Buddhist perspective, which she described as “saying no to our best wishes” or “misdirected will.”
The three types of laziness are, as Adreanna described them, having a lack of vision, speedy business, and disheartenment. We forget our intention, why we’ve said “yes” to something in the first place, lose our sense of purpose, and this can make us feel stuck, apathetic. Or, in a culture which sees productivity as a virtue, we fill up our time doing things that aren’t in line with our vision, our intention, our mission, and we treat busyness as a badge of honor. And finally, we might feel unworthy or disappointed in our efforts and lose patience, maybe even give up.
I was giving myself a hard time the other day for being so lazy on my vacation. I wasn’t getting enough done, was spending too much time resting. Then I really looked at the calendar, and realized it had only been two weeks, and I’d worked through part of that and been sick the rest. It got me to thinking about my distorted view, which I’ve been paying close attention to, noticing.
Like the other day, when I realized how much time I spend thinking about all the things I want to accomplish. I wrote down the to-do list I carry in my head all the time and it filled two pages, everything from becoming a Shambhala Meditation Instructor to clipping my toenails. The problem isn’t so much that the list exists, but that I’m continually checking it against what I’m actually doing, consulting it, contemplating it, seeing how I measure up. It never leaves my conscious mind and because of that I can never really relax, never really be here, never truly be free.
I see this working in so many moments of my life. When I meditate, I sit for 20-30 minutes and sometimes I’m only really meditating for 3-5 minutes because my mind is so speedy, so busy. And this morning, I was longing for a little more rest and some time alone, but when Eric said he was taking the dogs hiking, my first thought wasn’t those things but rather “I should start running again, go this morning and then go to yoga, but first I could do a few loads of laundry, go in early and chant the Guru Gita, go to the meditation sit at the Fort Collins Shambhala Center after yoga, go get groceries on the way home, balance the checkbook and write a blog post.” I did do a few loads of laundry and go to yoga, and while we were meditating and my teacher was giving some really great instruction about letting go and being present, I was totally distracted thinking about the ways the studio could make better use of their Facebook page.
Listening to Adreanna’s talk on laziness makes it clear I’m suffering from the full set, all three. Misdirected will, not saying yes to my best interests, avoiding the things I really want in favor of shoulds, still trying to work that old formula of doing what others want, pleasing them in the hopes that I’ve then earned the right to what I want, but that never really works and I know it.
And then I see this quote again, and I see myself. The seduction of a path that isn’t mine, the saying yes when I wanted to say no, not listening to my intuition, and abandoning myself. I’ve been lazy, but not in the way I thought (not getting shit done) but rather I lost sight of my intention, got busy with other things, and then let my disappointment and impatience make me want to give up. Luckily, there are antidotes to my behavior, my situation. I can reconnect with my intention. I can prioritize what really matters, give it my attention and time, and say no to everything else. I can show up and practice with joyful effort, having faith that the seeds I plant will come to fruition. I won’t give up. I hope you won’t either, kind and gentle reader.
But for now, I rest.