Sometimes it hits you; the tiredness, the exhaustion after pushing, trying, doing your best, which at that moment doesn’t even seem good enough.
Our instinct is to push it away, to try to change it, or to resist.
On a small scale, I see it clearly in my daily life; I often hit a low in the afternoon. I get tired and I need a nap or a timeout. At first, I start feeling a bit more grumpy, annoyed, less optimistic, then if I ignore it I can get into a space where everything seems very challenging, almost meaningless. I’ve learned that the best thing to do is to give myself a break as soon as I notice that my energy levels are low. If I do, I will come back to a neutral space rather quickly.
But I know it’s easier said than done, and many of us reach a point of exhaustion before we change gears.
Personally, it was by experiencing burnout and slowly rebuilding myself that I got to explore my energy levels in depth. By practicing Qi Gong daily for years I feel like I’ve really gotten acquainted with myself and the different states I can experience.
In a world where everything seems to spiral faster and faster, I’m an advocate for slowing down, for bringing gentleness and compassion to oneself.
So that’s why I want to share a wonderful poem by John O'Donohue with you:
A Blessing For One Who Is Exhausted
When the rhythm of the heart becomes hectic,
Time takes on the strain until it breaks;
Then all the unattended stress falls in
On the mind like an endless, increasing weight,
The light in the mind becomes dim.
Things you could take in your stride before
Now become laborsome events of will.
Weariness invades your spirit.
Gravity begins falling inside you,
Dragging down every bone.
The tide you never valued has gone out.
And you are marooned on unsure ground.
Something within you has closed down;
And you cannot push yourself back to life.
You have been forced to enter empty time.
The desire that drove you has relinquished.
There is nothing else to do now but rest
And patiently learn to receive the self
You have forsaken for the race of days.
At first your thinking will darken
And sadness take over like listless weather.
The flow of unwept tears will frighten you.
You have traveled too fast over false ground;
Now your soul has come to take you back.
Take refuge in your senses, open up
To all the small miracles you rushed through.
Become inclined to watch the way of rain
When it falls slow and free.
Imitate the habit of twilight,
Taking time to open the well of color
That fostered the brightness of day.
Draw alongside the silence of stone
Until its calmness can claim you.
Be excessively gentle with yourself.
Stay clear of those vexed in spirit.
Learn to linger around someone of ease
Who feels they have all the time in the world.
Gradually, you will return to yourself,
Having learned a new respect for your heart
And the joy that dwells far within slow time.
Do you feel that you know your own energy levels and signs of when you need a timeout, or do you often push yourself towards exhaustion? Let me know in the comments below.