I suspect by this stage of our lives we each know what we need to do, whether it is for the health of our body, our mind or our spirit, but how often do we actually do what we most need?
In recent posts I mentioned the retreat I co-facilitated recently. I truly love preparing for and offering retreats, but they require excessive amounts of time and energy, and at the end of a retreat I am tired mentally and physically. Spiritually, I feel almost too full. Absorbed by people's stories and challenges. Inspired by and eager to integrate the wisdom shared, but how?
My normal mode of operation when making a transition from one major activity or event to whatever is next is to clean, to sort and organize. When returning from a vacation, for example, I immediately unpack. Suitcases are returned to storage and laundry is started. Mail is sorted and if early enough in the day, I make a trip to the grocery store for the basics. Re-entry is not delayed.
When something has required time and attention and lots of preparation and when other projects and even ordinary tasks have needed to be set aside, I am usually eager to do whatever it takes to return my normal routine. I assumed I would follow that usual plan of action after the retreat, but I surprised myself.
I got as far as unloading all my retreat stuff from the car into the entry of the house, but then there they sat. I made no further efforts to reshelve the books, to file the papers or return the various props used throughout the day to their proper spots. I left it all in a pile right inside the door. I decided I could deal with it another day.
I knew what I needed was time to empty, to make room for what was most essential, to restore energy. I knew what would help me bridge the recent time of intense activity and interaction and would return me to equilibrium. I needed to see Big Water. I needed to hear Big Water.
Therefore, the day after the retreat Bruce and I drove north to Duluth and along the North Shore of Lake Superior toward Split Rock Lighthouse. I didn't have a list of sights to see or things to do. I did no research, except to see what the weather forecast would be. We had no real plan, but just headed north. Towards Big Water.
Each time we stopped to take in the view I could feel a shift inside my body. I started to empty and make room for some needed spaciousness. As the waves landed on the shore and then retreated back out beyond where I could see, I felt the wrinkles on my forehead, and even the ones I imagine on my heart, disappear. I experienced a smoothness, a lightening. I could feel the beginnings of a rhythmic flow again.
By the time we returned home, I was awake once again.
I had resisted what seemed most logical and instead responded to what my soul told me I most needed to do.
I realize it isn't always possible to do the one thing you feel would be most beneficial for your spirit, but more than likely there is something that would be a good stand-in. If I hadn't been able to take a full day for my soul or if I didn't have access to Big Water, which I have learned over the years is healing and inspiring for me, I hope I would have spent time meditating and writing in my journal, my two main spiritual practices. I hope I would have taken a longer than usual walk or spent time coloring and listening to music.
I know what I need at those kinds of overflowing time, and this time I allowed myself to actually respond to that need.
Do you know what restores you? How often do you actually do what you most need? I would love to know.