Category Archives: Health

Easing Overwhelm with More Space

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A couple weeks ago, I was feeling overwhelmed. I’m sure it happens to everyone, especially during the holiday season – you’re too busy to even think. It was difficult for me to find time to make dinner, walk the dog, and clean the house, let alone prepare to teach yoga classes and work on my Celebrant projects.

The things that I really want to do take a lot of time and mental space. How could I find more time for the activities that feed my soul, when I barely had time for what I needed to do? The answer could not be to add more to my schedule.

And then I had a revelation while driving around, running errands: what I need is more space, not more time. I immediately turned the radio off. I used that 20-minute drive to just pay attention to what I was doing. And immediately, ideas started popping into my head about the class I wanted to teach that night.

I started looking at all of my time differently. No more podcasts during walks with the dog – that is now 40 minutes a day for watching the change in seasons, looking at clouds, and laughing at my dog. Along the way, I naturally start to process, dream, plan, and mentally create.

It makes me more efficient with the time I have. I feel less frenzied. Less frustrated. Now, when I have time to do something I want to do, like writing a blog post, I actually have ideas in my head.

We can all use a reprieve from overwhelm during the holidays. Here are some ways you may be able to find more space:

  • Turn off the background noise at home
  • Don’t take out your phone while waiting in line
  • Put down your book while on the train or metro
  • Take a bath instead of a shower
  • Let yourself get bored – that’s when ideas come
  • Exercise outside without distractions

How do you find more mental space when you’re feeling overwhelmed?

On Health Problems

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For the last 3 years, I have been dealing with some frustrating health issues (that probably started way before then and that I won’t get into now). It’s not serious, but I don’t feel good and over time I believe it could affect my quality of life. In some ways, it already has.

I’ve spent thousands on health care practitioners, testing, and supplements not covered by insurance. I completely changed my diet. I’ve fasted. And I have been on a diet so restricted I couldn’t even eat lettuce, let alone try to eat out. I suddenly gained weight that I could not lose. And while some things have improved, most issues persisted.

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I felt betrayed by my body – like it was a stranger. I was also quite hard on myself. I did yoga all the time, meditated, ate healthy, and exercised. What was I doing wrong? To make matters worse, in the yoga world, I had come across philosophies that implied that health problems are personal deficiencies. Like my health issues are really a reflection of the state of my soul.

On the fence between continuing to search for solutions and accepting that I may not ever feel better, I purchased the book The Loving Diet by Jessica Flanigan. The Loving Diet does recommend specific foods. But more importantly, what Flanigan recommends is love.

She recommends a radical love: cooperating with your illness and loving your negative emotions. Avoiding “againstness” is key. Rather than trying hard and fighting your illness, you should work with your illness and even love it! It is better to simply show up and trust your life.

With this perspective, illness can be an opportunity – a way to wake up to something in your life. It is here to teach us, not to punish us. Time will tell, but I’m pretty sure my health issues are here to teach me to be more kind to myself (which is very different from trying really hard to do what I “should”).

I’m going to give it a try. What’s the harm? Doesn’t the world need more love, anyway?