Walk Slowly, Go Farther: a Case for Rest

text walk slowly, go farther, overlaying an image of a woman walking a red rock labyrinth.Sometimes the answer to getting somewhere is to do it slowly, and rest along the way. I’ve heard different versions of “Walk slowly, go farther” over the years, attributed to different people, most often to Confucius. However there is also the Aesop’s Fables version, in the story of the tortoise and the hare. Slow and steady wins the race (that phrase used to really irritate me as a kid).

I’ve always wanted to do everything, and do it fast.
I started walking at 9 months old.
When I was 4 years old, I lost my first tooth.
I couldn’t wait to be all 10 fingers old.
In middle school, I decided I was going to read ALL the classic literature (and I made a pretty big dent in the list).
In high school, I took AP classes. Tutored elementary kids. Joined the Spanish Club. Key Club. National Honor Society…

In college, I tried to do everything too. Studying to get in to nursing school, taking ballroom dance classes, attending extracurricular activities, juggling a part time job and dating. I was burning the candle at both ends, as my dad would say. I burnt out and got really sick. So sick that I could hardly drag myself out of bed to get to class and my shifts at work. That earned me my first ever “failing” grade, in Organic Chemistry. I was so sick that it triggered a cycle of chronic pain and fatigue that I still deal with, 20 years later.

My body had been telling me I needed to rest, and I ignored it until it demanded that I rest. Still, I forced myself to continue on. I finished nursing school, working 12 hour clinical shifts, had three babies, continued working part time and took care of my family.

From time to time, my body would shut down and I would miserably watch my children play from the couch, hardly able to move, feeling like I was fighting my way through wet concrete. I received multiple medical diagnoses, none of which offered me much hope, but demanded rest. A sickening anxiety surfaced, which would edge me toward a numb abyss of depression, which I referred to as my “deep dark hole”. I felt stuck because I wanted to do so much, but my body couldn’t perform. There was a grieving process for what I felt I had to give up, but I started learning to learn to treat my body with care and tenderness. I learned that I could still do the things most important to me (but not every whim that popped into my mind) if I would gift myself with adequate physical and mental rest.

This rest does not limit itself to naps or sleeping, or prostrating myself on the sofa. I learned (as the Nap Ministry has often shared on social media), that rest is anything that connects your mind and body.

I still have a long list of projects that I would like to accomplish, yesterday if possible. I want to become an expert in a dozen different subjects. Like so many others, I want to find the answers to all the questions that keep me up at night.

But the answer that keeps coming into my heart, over and over, is to walk for now. Rest, and then get up and walk again. Self compassion has helped me to process so much grief and recognize all the things that walking still allows. I used to think that I could rest when I was dead, but I have learned to treasure rest as a worthy endeavor by itself, and for its own sake.

Do you ever find that you can go farther by walking slowly?

Radical Acceptance- Tara Brach

Radical AcceptanceBook Info:

Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha, by Tara Brach. Available as eBook, paperback (352 pages), and audio (12 hours 45 minutes).

“Perhaps the biggest tragedy of our lives is that freedom is possible, yet we can pass our years trapped in the same old patterns… We may want to love other people without holding back, to feel authentic, to breathe in the beauty around us, to dance and sing. Yet each day we listen to inner voices that keep our life small.”

Summary:

Searching for the relationship between mindfulness, meditation, compassion and authentic living? Tara Brach uses Buddhist principles for healing clients and readers alike. Radical Acceptance helps the reader see the connection between many meditation concepts. For instance, transforming difficult emotions, finding healing through sorrow, and letting go of what no longer serves you are all emphasized in this book. This book is personal, emotional, and expounds on many deep topics that will lead the reader to greater peace. The author shares many personal experiences so the reader can see what authentic living looks like. Topics such as self love, forgiveness, compassion, and trauma are all highlighted. Therefore, this book is very powerful for those looking for healing in those topics.

Things to Know:

  • This book dives into complex meditation and mindfulness concepts such as personal authenticity, freedom, and trauma.
  • Personal experience, emotions, and concepts taught through parables and analogies are at the core of this book.

The Bottom Line:

This book is an excellent read for those looking to use meditative tools and philosophy to transform difficult emotions in their life. In addition, it teaches the reader how to let go of habitual beliefs that no longer serve them. Those looking for specific outcomes from meditation will possibly not find this book helpful.

The Verdict:

Rochelle:

Alicia:

Check out more of our “short and sweet” book reviews HERE.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links that earn us a small commission, at no additional cost to you if you purchase using our link.

Why Loving Yourself is the Most Important Thing You Will Ever Do

Before I started meditating I didn’t think much about self-love. The whole concept seemed a little new-agey and wreaked of over-used phrases like “self-esteem” and “treat yo self” for me to take it too seriously. I figured if there was something I didn’t care for in myself it was my problem to deal with. I didn’t see how it affected anyone else.

Brene Brown, the contemporary foremost authority on shame and vulnerability research, has studied and interviewed countless individuals on topics surrounding vulnerability, shame, and resilience. Do you know the number one common trait she found in people who live “wholeheartedly” as she calls it? Those rare people she discovered who lead their lives from a place of worthiness and compassion for themselves and others? Obviously, they must have lead lives of privilege, they couldn’t have known the dark holes of mistakes or years wasted in anguish over something. Was it that they were well-liked, or made a certain amount of money? None of the above. These people who lead shame-resistant lives were just as likely to have made large-scale mistakes, experience heartache and failure, and every other marker for difficulty as everyone else interviewed. The only difference? They believed they were worthy of love and connection. That’s it.

Hold up. So she is telling me that if I want live “wholeheartedly”, I don’t have to change a single thing about myself. I could go to bed tonight with all my annoying habits, my big nose, my past regrets, and wake up – with no changes! – and experience the deepest of human connections, the truest of human love, the kind of unencumbered joy that comes with no strings attached? Every day for the rest of my life? The only thing keeping me from my best life is my belief that those feelings aren’t for people like me?

Pretty much. Well, with the caveat that I would need to let go of all the baggage that comes with a lifetime of self-loathing overnight (insert Brene maniacally laughing as she knows she’s got my attention but I have no idea how much courage this is going to take).

Um. Ok? But still…why does loving myself matter so much?

Let’s pretend for a minute that I grew up in a family where sports were super important and I always really wanted to be good at sports but after a few painful experiences in middle school, I let go of that dream. There are many routes I could take, but let’s say that I decide that even if I’m not on a team, at least I can stay relevant by being in the know about sports. All my clothes proclaim my favorite teams. I always know the stats on the game and it’s my go-to topic of conversation. I don’t realize it, but I’m hustling for my worth and for my place in my tribe. I’m hustling because I don’t believe I’m enough without sports.

Ok, fine, you say. So you’re insecure about sports and you like to catch the game after work, there are worse things in life.

Sure. But it doesn’t end there. There are a lot of areas where this will haunt me throughout life. What about in college, how do I act every time I meet an athletic person? Hustling. How do I act when I meet someone who is bad at sports? I probably spit my own self-judgement right in their face. Hustling. Lastly, what if I have a child who reflects the part I hate the most about myself back at me. What if they try out for sports and they are “that” same kid that I was? Hustling. It’s very hard for me to offer compassion to that child when I’ve never extended it to myself for the exact same thing. And this time, my child is going to learn to hustle too.

Maybe it’s not sports for you – maybe it’s stretch marks, impatience, maybe you were a bully for years, maybe it’s a harsh internal dialogue from years of emotional abuse. Whatever it is, it doesn’t just affect you.

The first thing you can do is become aware of what you loathe in yourself. Judgement is a great signal for this because when we judge someone else it is almost always because we are trying to distance ourselves from something we are afraid of or dislike about ourselves. Do you judge that woman who is always late to work meetings because as a child it was instilled in you that being late it was a sign of laziness? What does your internal dialogue look like when you are running late? How about that bad habit you can’t get on top of? How do you respond when you see someone else exhibiting that same habit you hate? How about when your child expresses anxiety about a situation and you tell them to stop being a baby? How do you respond when you feel vulnerable or weak in a situation?

It’s important in these times when you realize how deep the well of frustration with yourself may run, to take a deep breath and try to suspend judgement for yourself. Get curious. Instead of judging yourself – ask yourself why you are acting or feeling this way? It’s a little scary, right? If I stop hating the things I hate about myself – even for a second, won’t I just keep doing that thing forever? Isn’t it the hatred and loathing that motivates me to be my best self?

The answer is a resounding “no”. When has hatred or anger ever inspired someone to change for the better? We can easily hear how ridiculous this sounds for relationships, yet we don’t apply it for our own personal relationship with yours truly. As long as you resist the things you hate and fear the most about yourself, you can’t really look at them. When you hold the things you loathe about yourself in judgement and shame, they are too rigid and condemning to conquer. Holding your self-hatred in compassion and understanding allows those rigid sharp edges to relax ever-so slightly. For the first time maybe we can acknowledge that we screwed up but we aren’t A screw-up. Maybe we can admit that while, yes, we knew better, we are still human. Maybe we can start to believe that we are still worthy of love and the best experiences life has to offer – even if we can’t offer that love to ourselves in every aspect just yet.

Learning to love ourselves is critical in meditation for another reason. Meditation is bringing us into the present, it’s making us aware of our true nature. Most of our self-loathing, however, is rooted in the past. Whether it was a bad experience, or endlessly wishing you could get back to your “ideal weight”, whatever it might be, your self-loathing isn’t serving this moment. Releasing your self-loathing allows you to fully explore the present moment, experience it, un-strangled by tendrils from the past.

Despite what I said earlier, learning to love yourself isn’t going to be an overnight process. But maybe tomorrow you can become aware of ways that you could eventually love yourself more. Maybe you’ll be inspired to intend to love yourself someday, which is fine. Take it one step, one situation, one thought at a time. And plan on mistakes and mess-ups and learning to love yourself through them along the way. You might find that clearing out all the baggage and festering insecurity brought on by self-loathing leaves behind deep, cavernous scars with just the right environment to become the birthplace of deeper relationships, more connection, more love, and deeper peace than you could have ever imagined.

-Alicia

 

How to respond to body-shaming comments

respond to body shaming“Wow! You are really short, aren’t you?” My head snapped around to see who had asked such a rhetorical and awkward question, and I discovered a pair of unblinking eyes, a head taller than me, looking straight down into mine. An older woman I had never met was watching me, waiting expectantly for my response. I was taken by surprise. Her question had transported me back to middle school, a time when I was the daily (maybe hourly?) recipient of similar observations about my small stature. A time when I felt not just physically smaller than everyone else, but smaller on the inside, too. Insignificant, immature, unworthy of notice.

I register at 5’1” on a good posture day. These days, I own being a short girl, although I prefer to refer to myself as “petite”. Whether you’re petite, or statuesque, willowy, or curvy, light skinned or dark-skinned, or freckled, or anything remotely “different” or sheesh, maybe even “normal” featured, whatever that means, I know you’ve been the recipient of a Comment (with a capital ‘C’)- perhaps it was well- meaning, perhaps it was malicious, or maybe it was just uncomfortably awkward. I know you probably felt a rush of conflicting emotions, just as I did- a sense of having the rug pulled out from under you, and of being forced to fight your way out of a corner.

For me, in that moment, I was caught up in those conflicting emotions and I didn’t really respond other than what felt like incoherent mumbling, and I moved on.  But I was bothered. Should I have just ignored it?  Put her in her place? I could have thrown her words back at her, with barbed edges.  However, I sensed that this woman’s body shaming comment did not have any malicious intent, and most likely was due to her feeling some level of insecurity about herself.  I certainly didn’t want to make the same mistake she did. Upon further reflection, I realized that I wanted to be able to respond in a way that was both a gentle correction, and that validated each of our worth as a person. Here’s how I would respond if that situation were to happen again:

Commentator: “Wow! You really are short!”

Me, with a smile: “And aren’t we both lovely? It’s amazing how beauty comes in so many different forms.”

We’ve all been the recipient of body-shaming comments, or comments that touch on a sensitive area for us. People remark on our height, weight, shape, coloring, outfit, hair, makeup, hygiene, marital/relationship status, apparent level of prosperity, etc. The list goes on and on.  It’s easy to get caught up in it, and create a never-ending cycle of resentment, self- loathing, and judgement. I don’t know about you, but I don’t have the time or the emotional stamina to be on that hamster wheel!

I would like to offer some advice:

  1. Don’t be the commenter in this scenario. Choose not to participate in body shaming. Do not remark on the size, or shape, or any other characteristic of someone’s body, either to their face, or behind their back. Sure, you may feel like you’re just being honest, but ask yourself these 3 questions first: 1. Is it true? 2. Is it kind? 3. Is it necessary? Do both of you a favor and make an effort to see past what’s on the outside and find out something about the person they are on the inside. Yeah, I know it can be hard to dig that deep, especially in superficial situations. But you might make a new friend and be better for it. If you really can’t figure out anything else to say, just close your mouth and smile.
  2. If you have an “oops” moment, and you realize that you just became the commenter (and we’ve all been there), take a deep breath, don’t beat yourself up, but acknowledge the feelings and thoughts you had that caused you to make the comment. Apologize if necessary. Make a commitment to yourself to use words that uplift.
  3. If you are the recipient of one of these “helpful” comments, resist the urge to be offended. Pause, and take a deep breath. Resist the urge to internalize those words. Resist the urge to fire back a retort about the other person’s height, or weight, or appearance in general. Instead, take a moment to internally reaffirm your worth. Recognize that the comment is most likely based in the other person’s insecurity. Choose to make this a learning experience for both of you. Don’t reverse- body- shame the other person- you might feel better temporarily, but it just puts the other person on the defensive and doesn’t invite positive change. Don’t respond to the comment other than to express love and total acceptance of yourself, and the other person if you can manage it sincerely. Yeah, I know it can be hard to dig that deep, and find something kind to say to someone who made an insensitive or rude comment to you. But you’ll be at peace, you’ll have self- respect, and you’ll hopefully teach that person to be better by your example.
  4. Lastly, make a conscious choice to love the skin you’re in. This body, this gift you’ve been given, is the only one you’ve got, and it is your vehicle for experiencing all the beauty and joy that life has to offer. The more you nourish your physical body with self- love, self- awareness, and total acceptance, the less you have to fear other people’s judgements. This is a process and a journey. Be gentle with yourself even if you find yourself sliding back into self-critical thought patterns. If you need to change deeply rooted, negative thought patterns about your body, may I suggest choosing a positive affirmation and saying it out loud, many times each day? We’ll cover crafting an effective positive affirmation statement in another post, but “I am…” statements are a good place to start. Here’s my favorite affirmation, that I come back to over and over: “I am beautiful, vibrant, and worthy of love.” If that feels difficult to say, just know that it gets easier the longer you practice it.

What do you think? Have you been the recipient of a well-meaning Comment? How did you respond? Or, were you on the other side of scenario? What would you do differently the next time you’re in a similar situation?

-Rochelle