Today, once again, I put together my “to do” list for the day, and halfway through I can see that I will be lucky to even get half of it done. Oh well.
For the last year or so, I have been holding an intention named in the title of the book: Go Only as Fast as Your Slowest Part Feels Safe to Go (Robyn Posin).
Ironically, developing this practice has been slow going.
The part of me that wants to take the lead and push myself to go faster and harder than feels right internally still easily takes charge, especially when the demands in my life are many. Other than designated “downtime” (which I still have been known to give away) this is basically all the time.
It’s hard for me to imagine that, in the world we live in, you don’t also feel this internal push to strive, accomplish and perfect more than you enjoy also.
This is certainly the way I was educated to live. Like many of you, my inner critic still wants me to get it right, get the result, and keep striving until I do. This is how I was taught to measure myself as a worthy of others respect (and my own)!
Even though I don’t believe that anymore, these habits are deeply ingrained and resistant to change. But change is possible!
My spiritual direction practice is aimed at offering guidance and support in seeing and shifting the internal beliefs and patterns that hold us back from the fulfillment calling to us on our own Path of Joy. No matter what tensions, challenges or struggles we are addressing, the internal work of self-care and self-regulation has to come first.
I have to keep doing this work too.
I wrote last year about the old patterns that keep us pushing on when we need to pause:
“This kind of projection from the past into the present is inevitable. It will happen, but we don’t have to listen to those internal voices. We can speak up now. We can choose to have people in our lives who support that. We can choose a pace that our “slowest part” feels safe in going.
What the world needs now is people who can live (and model) a focused,
balanced, centered way of being that is – most of the time anyway – grounded in a resilient strength arising out of self-knowledge and self-acceptance.
The Path of Joy is about having the inner freedom to make choices that
contribute to a meaningful and fulfilling experience of being alive – and let us bless the world with our gifts. Inner freedom is always possible, regardless of external circumstances.”
I deeply believe that, and I work to live it every day.
I still often find it hard to slow down.
What’s been shifting for me, and what I want to share with you here, is the necessity for active spiritual practices to make the shift.
How can you discover and attend to the needs of “your slowest part”?
First, there is noticing. Develop the awareness practice of noticing whether you have an inner sense of your mind racing with all that you “ought” to do. This might be accompanied by a sense of anxiety or dread and/or physical tightness in your head, throat or chest. Let yourself notice that.
Second, if you notice this racing/tightness in your mind/body, stop. Just stop. Take three long, slow deep breaths. Make the out breath twice as long as the in- breath. This will help your nervous system to calm down. If you’re not feeling calm yet, take another three long slow breaths. Continue until you feel yourself shifting into a more relaxed, less anxious state.
Following the impulse to drive yourself harder isn’t noble. It is to the codependent/workaholic what the first drink is to the alcoholic. There is momentary relief, which will be followed by the need for more, which will be followed by increased suffering and compulsion.
Finally, once you have calmed yourself ask yourself what “your slowest part” really needs. Again, check-in at the mind/body/spirit levels. What part of you needs to rest, renew and catch up?
What are you willing to do to give yourself that?
Not only your “slowest part,” but your entire being will thank you.
With You on the Path,