“Is it time to stop growing?” Sit with this question for a few minutes, how does it feel? Does it feel counter intuitive in a world focused on continual growth and personal development or do you feel a sense of relief? Time to take the foot off the peddle and shift down a gear?
This is the second post in the Harmonizing series inspired by 5 days I spent with Dawn Breslin and a group of amazing women training to become Harmonizing Coaches. One of the themes which runs throughout the programme is that of getting back in touch with natural cycles and how we locate ourselves within them.
The course took place at Lendrick Lodge on the shores of Loch Venachar. An amazing location in which to immerse yourself fully in the natural world. A place where you can truly pause, reflect and connect with the cyclical nature of the natural world.
The energy of natural cycles
The natural cycle of plants and trees evolves around periods of dormancy, emergence, growth and endings. We have just come through summer and the garden has been full on. Things moving forward at pace, much activity and development. Using a phrase familiar to anyone who listens to Gardeners Question Time on Radio 4, “onwards and upwards”.
As we pass the autumn equinox there is change in the air. The last few weeks, for us, have been full. We’ve harvested fruit, hops for beer making, vegetables from the garden. However the garden is shifting into a different space and pace. The trees are moving fully into their autumn glory and letting go of their leaves. Plants are dying back and the squirrels are busy gathering nuts to see them through the winter.
The rhythms of your life.
How does your life looks when you think about natural cycles? It’s an interesting and fundamental analogy to explore. Actually it is more than an analogy, it’s about your health and well-being.
Does summer mode feel familiar when you think of the pace of your life right now? An ever expanding ‘to do list’, full on production mode. Already thinking about the next project before you’ve completed the one you are working on. Chasing the next grant, the next paper, trying to clear a waiting list, implement some kind of service redevelopment. Onwards, onwards, onwards. Perhaps this quote from Rebecca Campbell resonates:
I measured my input in a linear fashion, often the last one in the office believing effort equalled output. When people would ask me how I was, I would respond with something along the lines of, ‘super busy’ or, ‘exhausted as I’ve been working super long hours’ as if being in demand and stretched defined my worth. My ego felt important but my soul was completely parched. (Rise Sister Rise. Rebecca Campbell).
Are you living in a linear fashion?
Continual growth in the natural world is unsustainable. Periods of dormancy and restoration are pre-requisites for the next seasons growth. If you look at today, this week or this month how much time have you made for the things which restore you. Things which energise and reenergise you? Do you give yourself time for rest and restoration and if not what is the impact on you and those people around you?
When I left academia to become a women’s personal development coach the paradox was that my head cleared, I had more time to think and more time to be creative than I had experienced for years. I know this will resonate with some of you, because I have heard it many times from other women. This quote from Rebecca Campbell is referring to the caterpillar inside a cocoon:
At a glance the caterpillar appears to be just chilling out and resting, but in reality, nothing could be further from the truth. Inside the caterpillar is rapidly transforming. (Rise Sister Rise. Rebecca Campbell).
If you are running on empty because you are living your life in a linear fashion, trying to sustain continual growth, perhaps it’s time to shift into autumn mode in some aspects of your life? To move down a gear and give your body, your brain, your spirit time to replenish.
A lesson from nature.
On one of the mornings of the course I got up early to walk to the top of the hill to watch the sunrise. Super determined to get there in time off I set on the upward path. After quite a while of walking upwards I came to a T junction. No more upwards, just left or right.
Slightly frustrated I took the left hand path and was even more irked when I just seemed to be walking in a straight line rather than rising. I was on a mission to get to the top. After about 10 minutes, however, I came to a view point with the most magnificent view over several Lochs. The mist was rising from the water just as the sun broke through. Lesson one – sometimes it pays to stop trying to get to the top in super quick time. Periods of levelling off can pay dividends.
I so wanted to capture the moment. After a couple of attempts I actually managed to get the video on my phone working and took a panoramic shot and then wanted to get another just for luck. Wouldn’t you know it, my phone was out of battery. I was forced to stand and watched as the most beautiful sunrise unfolded around the Lochs and hills. For a moment the birds stopped singing and everything was silent as if honouring the beauty we were witnessing together. Lesson two – slowing down from ‘doing’ and switching into ‘being’ at one with nature has the potential to replenish your soul.