Looking inward to recreate “life as usual”

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Sometimes I feel like I have to force myself to do the things that make me happy. Isn’t it strange how we can procrastinate, even when what we are avoiding is something for which we are longing?

For example, I love to read. So often I find myself longing to just be sitting on my couch, wrapped in a blanket, with a good book. And yet, I almost never actually make it a reality.

Then I start to wonder why it’s so hard for me to just sit down and read. My first thought is my go-to excuse for everything – “I don’t have time.” Sure, I work a full-time job and commute an hour each way. Yes, I also cook all of my own food from scratch each evening. And somewhere in there I try to maintain a yoga practice. But the truth is, I do have time. I just choose to spend it in other ways.

But maybe it’s a little deeper than that. Maybe it’s just hard for me to sit still and unwind. Maybe I’m scared of what will happen if I loosen up a little bit and let myself not be busy for a few minutes. And maybe it’s all of those things that I’m longing for the most.

What would happen?

Perhaps I would find that how I’m living my life is not truly making me happy. Perhaps I would learn that I have so many dreams yet to be realized. Perhaps the fear of trying to make those dreams a reality, the fear of failure, will threaten to put me back into that all too familiar state of “too busy.”

Today, I made the time to sit down and read. I had to force myself to sit down and open the book, instead of checking facebook. Instead of working on a new post for my vegan food blog. Instead of the hundreds of things that I want to “get done” today. I took a second and realized that this is my day to unwind, to relax, and that is what I needed most in this moment.

I picked up a book my mother-in-law gave to me, Unlocking the Heart of Healing, by Bridget Hughes. One of the passages really hit home for me in my current situation.

“‘Life as usual’ is familiar and addictive and threatens to swallow us all up if we are not awake, and awake again, and yet again. Luckily, the mystical experience of the Divine is not something that is abandoned peaceably in favor of the American Frazzled, Busy, Time-Deprived Way of Life. Rather, its experience and absence foments a quietly building restlessness until life is realigned.”

It’s so easy to forget the things that really matter, that really help us to thrive. It’s so easy to put other things first, because they seem like the priority in the moment, only to find you’ve put your health, happiness and well-being absolutely last. It’s so easy to get caught up in “being busy” and “not having time.”

But once we’ve experienced something that opens our eyes, we are set down a path of discovery from which we can never fully return. For me, one such experience was my path to yoga. I went to yoga classes occasionally over the years at my local gym, then I tried some videos at home. I was never that into it, but for some reason, I kept trying it out every couple years, in different forms and spaces. Eventually, I was led to a studio where it all just clicked. It wasn’t about exercise anymore. I felt a sense of calm and I began to develop a practice of self care, self love.

Another example for me is my path to veganism. There were many times over the years that I developed a curiosity about vegetarianism. I worked in the same building as a PETA office, and that led me to look up more information. I learned about the health benefits of a plant-based diet and the cruelty of factory farming. But multiple times, I would let myself forget everything I had learned and slip back into my old routine and diet. Eventually, I read a book that led me to chose vegetarianism for health. A couple years later, I happened to watch the documentary, Vegucated, and for some reason, in that moment, it finally all broke through. In that moment, I was vegan.

As in the passage above, it may take many moments of awakening, little by little, until we find what we’re looking for. But What really struck me about her words, was the fact that even though it may be easy to “fall back asleep,” or return to “life as usual,” there is still something inside that is changed. Something that is calling out to us to wake up again.

And that is why it’s so important, for me, to find the time to sit and be still. These moments of looking inward are what help let my true calling bubble to the surface. And when I get a glimpse of my wildest dreams, I can wake up and truly live.

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