Say you are going on holiday. You have to pack your bag. What do you take? What do you need for your journey? If you are anything like me, no matter how many journeys you take, all too often the bag is over-packed!
If you thought about your Life as taking a journey and the way you fill your days, weeks and months as the way you pack your bag for that journey, have you over packed?
There are so many interesting things we can choose to do with our time, not to mention work, family and the many expectations that are placed on us or we place on ourselves. It is very easy to pack in too much into your weeks, months and even years. Many of these things we feel are not of our own choosing, but rather stuff we ‘have to’ do.
A few years ago I very definitely over packed my bag. It became so stuffed with things I was trying to achieve, the bag broke. It burst open and all that was in it came flying out! I was broke. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I felt like I couldn’t do anything anymore. I started sleeping in, going for long walks, eating better, turning to Restorative Yoga and deep contemplative practices. I felt like I was recovering from an illness. And I was.
That illness was over-work and it turned into adrenal fatigue. I didn’t realise this until I was well on my way to recovery. Luckily I started listening to my body (though I really had no choice at that point, my body and everything else just said Enough!) and I began to do what was needed in order to bring back balance.
I was running 3 little businesses at the time and living what could be termed a ‘sustainable’ lifestyle. Except it wasn’t sustainable at all! I knew changes had to be made. Luckily I am my own boss and could decide for myself what needed doing in my life and what didn’t.
I completely unpacked my bag.
I began to do only what was absolutely necessary to keep things ticking over and gave plenty of time for deep rest and recovery. I changed my Yoga practices. They became things like going for a gentle walk, spending time patting our pet donkeys, swimming in our spring, taking time to do nothing else but enjoy a good meal. Along with meditation, gentle Yoga and contemplation practices.
When I felt ready to start re-packing my bag again, I did so carefully. I would introduce a new task or project, give it space, spent time with it and then assessed whether it was aligning itself with my new way of being. Did the project inject stress into my life? If it did, it was out. If it felt good, nourishing, inspiring, then it stayed. Once that had settled, I could try for something else. Did it fit my new way of being, did it add stress or inspiration, etc.
I spend the next 2 years re-filling that bag. One thing at a time. What become important to me was leaving space. I wanted to live spaciously. I am still working with finding the right balance. Naturally sometimes we have to step it up and be all consumed by something. But that can only be done in short spurts. You have to be accountable to yourself or someone in order to ensure you don’t fall into the trap of believing ‘busy is good’, when often, busy is simply stress.
I have had some unexpected challenges and life events happen in that time too. One of the things I have learnt is how important it is to leave space for the mystery. Not to pack your life so tightly that there isn’t any room for the unexpected. This can make life very miserable. Not only might you miss out on some fantastic opportunities for something new and amazing to happen, you may also be completely thrown overboard by a challenge (big or small) if there isn’t any space left to handle it.
If this post strikes a cord with you, find some time during the week to take a look at what you are filling your life with. What can you let go of? What isn’t necessary? What does or does not fill you will satisfaction? Of all the things you ‘have to do’ ask yourself, do you really have to do them? Is it, after all a choice. Then experiment with how little you can do during a week and get used to ‘creating space’ around the activities you do choice to do. This allows you to do the activity more mindfully, with greater interest and enjoyment and with a higher quality than before.
Like doing a spring clean in your home, think about doing a Life spring clean. Unpack the bag and learn to journey with a lighter load. That way you have more room to pick up things as you go, rather than have no room and be left with a feeling of dissatisfaction.
So what have you packed your bag with? Pack light and enjoy your travels!