While we all do our best to prioritize self-care and prevention throughout the year, the fall – and the cyclical changing of all the seasons – is an especially important time to pause, reflect and direct our focus toward even more exquisite self-care practices. The transition to the fall brings darker, colder, wetter days, and for many this time of year brings a noticeable, almost cellular desire to rest and sleep more, nap, ‘cozy in’… indeed hibernate like so many of our animal friends. These natural urges in the body-mind are in contrast to … or conflict with… certain pressures in our society to function at a break-neck pace at all times regardless of season, energy levels, or respecting and honouring personal and family cycles.
Please consider this message as gentle encouragement to carve out time for yourself and to reflect and explore new ways – or re-invigorate familiar ways – to be in the world that involve less pushing, pretending, struggling, bettering, judging and performing. As we focus more on what nourishes us – body, mind and spirit – our priorities naturally align, what we value comes more clearly into view and we are then best able to make choices that serve us and those with whom we live, work and play.
There is a common misunderstanding and worry that ‘slowing down’ to reflect and prioritize may mean that we become less productive when actually the opposite is often true. Unfortunately, whether we are consciously aware of this belief or not, most people function in the world believing that the more stressed out they are, the more they will accomplish. Or that stress is an unavoidable part of being a passionate, accomplished and successful person.
The truth is that slowing down does not necessitate letting go of commitments on our To-Do lists, though it may mean approaching them in new ways. Instead of defining ‘slowing down’ in this way, consider slowing down as a new – or renewed – commitment to our self that has the potential to bring moment-to-moment – mindful – awareness and this is where the slowing down exists… in… each… breath … and … each… moment.
At the end of my first week back from a full month of practicing yoga and meditation full-time on a beautiful and peaceful Gulf Island, I said to the nurse at my family practice office, “I’m sorry that I wasn’t able to see as many patients this week, I will pick up the pace next week…”. Her reply and the realization that it brought to me marked a turning point in my life. She said, “In my 5 years working with you, you were never as busy as you were this week. You saw more patients than you ever have.” I realized in that moment that the more relaxed I was, the more productive I was… all without experiencing stress.
Today, I find that being relaxed means that I am more creative and clear in my ideas and my communication with myself and others. I am more aware and more likely to act from a marriage of intellect and intuition instead of from an adrenaline-and-stress-hormone-charged knee jerk reaction or assumption. I am more compassionate and kind with myself and others. And although like everyone else I am a ‘work in progress’, I am committed to practicing relaxation and mindful presence and so I align my life towards my top priority of being present to my life and the lives of my family, community and the whole world.
All of InspireHealth’s programs and services are here to support stress reduction, relaxation and mindful presence. All those living with cancer and their families are welcome to participate and practice with us. We welcome you just as you are. Please join us.
Dr. Janice Wright
Chief Medical Officer