It’s not the first (and probably won’t be the last) time I will tell you that I love, love, love summertime. Sunny days, picnics, family reunions, baseball games, sunset paddles on Lake Erie. And peaches. I also love, love, love peaches!
But summer has a flip side. It can be a time of “too much.” Too much food, too many houseguests, too much sun poolside, too many social obligations, too many late nights. Summer has a vacation feel and especially in the northern climate, we try to pack the sunny days full of outdoor fun before the gray days of winter descend.
When I “vibe the room” at this time of year at my Monday morning Restorative Yoga class, I feel the exhaustion of many of my students. They are tired. There are two kinds of tired, one that requires rest, the other that requires peace. The tired many of us are feeling these days requires peace and spiritual renewal. Trust me, I feel the exhaustion sometimes myself, and when I do, I know it’s time to close for spiritual maintenance.
As yogis, our journey is to practice a balance of love, wisdom and power. Our personal self-care is essential to that balance, and when we become overwhelmed with “too much,” we lose touch with the confluence of the sources of our love, wisdom and power: God. We put people or things between us and God on the Pyramid (see last week’s blast, The God Pyramid).
We give in to the non-essential urgency of everyday life. The merry-go-round of chores and to-do lists and commitments. We say yes automatically, sometimes out of habit and sometimes because we are pleasers. We promise the kids they can have a camp out in the backyard with a campfire and s’mores. We promise to bake a blueberry pie (and pick the blueberries) for Pie Day at our mom’s nursing home. We tell our husband that it’s fine if his vegan sister and her four kids visit for a week.
We say yes, yes, yes even as our brains are screaming “too much, no, no, no.”
The result is spiritual depletion. The early summer high and joy we experienced fades into a manic striving to keep up, an obsession with shoulds and yeses. And it keeps piling on. As the dog days of August continue, the flyers for back-to-school land in our mailboxes and WTF … there are Halloween decorations in the stores. Seriously? The holidays already?
We find ourselves cranky, even resentful. We slog through the days feeling empty and uninspired. Lovelies, we need spiritual maintenance. Pronto!
Before we can be a friend, a wife, an employee, a son, or even a yoga teacher, we have be spiritually nourished ourselves. We have to return to our yogic path of love, kindness, wisdom and power. We need to “close down” for spiritual maintenance.
Say this with me: No. No, I can’t. No, I’m not able to go on Thursday, but how about next Tuesday? No, I can’t manage a formal dinner for your boss, but what if we have a shrimp boil and tubs full of craft beer around the pool? No, we aren’t into opera, but thanks for thinking of us. No. No. No.
Now say this with me: Yes. Yes, I can. Yes, I can take 30 minutes this morning for a quiet, leisurely walk in the woods (Shambala). Yes, I will listen to an uplifting podcast while I fix dinner (hmmm, maybe the latest Soul Stretch podcast?). Yes, I want to spend a few moments setting a spiritual intention for the day. Yes, I want to rest my soul. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Knowing when to say no and when to say yes comes from the exercise of yogic wisdom. When your spiritual balance is out of kilter, stop for a moment when presented with the need to make a decision about how to spend your time and energy. Ask yourself, Will this tire me or inspire me? Will this simplify my life or make it more complicated? Is this something that offers me a spiritual lift, inspiration, joy? Or am doing this because I should, I must, I’m obligated?
Sometimes we have to do things out of obligation. We can’t say no, however much we would like to. But we can stop for a moment and remind ourselves of our higher purpose, and how fulfilling our absolute obligations is part of our spiritual relationship with our Higher Power. We let the obligation settle in a place where God can help us keep our spiritual balance. We re-establish ourselves in the God Pyramid.
Lovelies, don’t be afraid to say no. Don’t be afraid to say yes. Know and respect your limits. Keep your life centered on your spiritual purpose: that which refreshes and inspires you. Eliminate the “too much” in your life and let go of the non-essentials that feed your spiritual, and physical, exhaustion. Create space for grace, peace and rest. Keep God first, and you second!
Summer is sailing by. Schedule some spiritual maintenance, some self-care, and breathe in the glory of sunshine. And eat peaches.
Happy spiritual tinkering, lovelies. Namaste.