Several weeks ago when I checked in with the folx in my online community to ask them how they are – for real – I started to get slightly different responses.
I’d heard them name exhaustion, anxiety and stress many times before. But this time, they also started to use the word “burnout.” Based on my own experience and what I’ve heard from my coaching clients, friends and colleagues, we feel like the stress, anxiety and exhaustion have overwhelmed us. The emotional and physical toll of the past two and a half years of pandemic, racial reckoning, political polarization and cultural upheaval has laid us out.
Our energy is extremely low, we can’t get enough sleep, and we want to do the easiest things possible or nothing at all. At the same time, we might find ourselves frighteningly busy, with calendars far too full with work, family and other obligations. We continue to run on adrenaline – at least until our bodies and minds completely break down.
I want to help you avoid the breakdown that is inevitable if we don’t stop the burnout.
One thing that I’ve been practicing, on my yoga mat and in real life, is slowing down.
Even after nearly 20 years of yoga practice, I still tend to rush through the practice I’m doing. I move too fast through asana (movement), pranayama (breath) and even meditation in order to check the box and say, “that it got done,” and add one more day to my streak on my meditation app.
Practicing yoga and meditation should resist our cultural conditioning to do, do, do and work, work, work. I’ve said it before, and I’ll keep saying it (probably for the rest of my life): Our culture only values us for what we do and what we produce. It’s a hallmark of racism, toxic capitalism, sexism and ableism. We must resist this conditioning if we are to begin to dismantle these oppressive and violent structures.
And if you’re reading this blog post you probably care about resisting these structures. (Either that or you just quit reading and clicked over to something else on the internet.)
In the yoga series that started this week, I invited participants in my weekly yoga community to truly slow down the practice. I cued each movement with one or more breath cycles. When I practiced myself, I found that this slow-down was both deeply relaxing and incredibly frustrating. I’d find myself enjoying the slower pace for a while, then my busy, conditioned mind and nervous energy in my body would propel me forward, urging me to go faster so I could finish quicker and move onto more important things.
There is nothing more important than slowing ourselves down. When we do, we reverse our burnout and change the culture that values only our doing.
Try this short video practice in slowing down with a walking meditation:
Ancient spiritual traditions like yoga offer us practices and tools that have already been tested in circumstances as harsh or harsher than our own. These technologies value us as human beings rather than “human doings.” Let me know in the comments how you feel after doing the practice!
Ways to Slow Down
Do you want to be part of a community committed to slowing down? Join my Defy the Trend Community Sampler for free! It includes:
- access to one of my upcoming yoga classes attend live any Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. EDT (or get the recording)
- access to online community conversations
- a sampler package of downloadable guided meditations
- and (soon to launch) my weekly newsletter that will be full of practice tips, resources, and links to special community events.