I first rouse to see the early morning light shining through the windows. Lifting my head to peek out, the sky is bright blue and promising another scorcher of a day here on Koh Phagnan. Do I want to get up?, I ask myself. I answer by placing my head back down on the pillow and curling up into the fetal position. I doze on and off for another hour and am finally lured up by the thought of hot coffee. It’s 8:30am. Grabbing my notebook and a cup of Nescafe I settle in at the small table on the porch and begin my writing exercise.
The days have fallen into this leisurely routine and while I had intentions of being highly productive and catching up on the hundreds of photos I need to edit, I’ve pretty much just been pampering myself instead.
Last week I took a yoga class on Yogaglo.com (this super fantastic website I subscribe to with online classes of all styles, lengths, levels, etc – for only $18 a month!) that was focused on feeling good. The teacher gave us several variations of each pose and encouraged us to tune in and do whatever felt good for our bodies at that time. This isn’t always the case in yoga class. Sometimes you do poses that don’t necessarily feel good but they are beneficial and part of the practice is to be with the discomfort and the challenge. Not this class. So by the end of the hour when it was almost time for Corpse Pose (all yoga classes end with this final resting pose of total relaxation) she once again offered us options. We have about three minutes left before final resting pose, she said, you can do X, Y or Z postures. Or, she said, you can take an extra long Savasana (final resting pose). My body immediately said YES, I want to do that! As I lie down onto my back and stretched my arms and legs out comfortably beside me, I noticed how clear that answer was for me.
I didn’t have to think about what I wanted because my body knew instantly. And since I’d just spent the last hour quieting my mind and tuning in to my body, it was easy for me to hear. I think this is always the case – that my body (my gut, my intuition) knows – but that I’m usually so disconnected I can’t hear it. So I end up relying on my head to try and find the answer. I reason, I rationalize, I consider what I should do. You can’t help but consider the shoulds when your head is involved. But your body doesn’t care what you should do or what you should want. It just wants what it wants and it offers us the truest answer possible.
Since that morning and that gentle realization, I’ve been making it a practice to tune in and ask my body what it wants. When it’s time to eat, I tune in. When I’m deciding what to do with my day, I tune in. When I weigh the various possibilities something always resonates clearly. I know it because I feel that same sense of peace as when I said Yes! to a longer resting pose. My body feels relaxed, my mind is clear and there’s an easiness about my choice.
Last night my neighbor asked about my dinner plans. He’s a really lovely Scottish gentleman, retired and spending his days here on the island volunteering at the meditation center. I thoroughly enjoy our conversations and his company but when I checked in with myself I knew that what I really wanted was a quiet evening alone. I wanted to pick up some take out, sit on my porch and mindlessly surf the web.
In perfect synchronicity my Note from the Universe yesterday read:
No more “supposed tos,” OK, Ashlie?
You’re not supposed to work harder, look better, sleep less, sell more, run faster, talk slower, be happier, stay longer, leave earlier, cook, clean, negotiate, settle, start, stop, move, try, win, shake, rattle or roll.
Other people made all that up.
I love you the way you are,
Oh, you can do any or all of the above, Ashlie, you so can, but you’re not “supposed to.”
I shared it on Facebook because I loved it and other people seemed to love it too. It really strikes a cord because we so often feel trapped living out these supposed to’s and should’s. Why are they so hard to shake even when we know it’s just a bunch of crap that someone else made up? I don’t know. But I can tell you this – doing what you’re supposed to is highly overrated and not all that fulfilling. I’m not implying that we forsake all of our responsibilities and indulge in our every whim. That would be equally unsatisfying. I’m advocating, at least for my own life, that I learn to consistently tune in to that inner knowing, to my body and my gut and my intuition. That I learn to listen so intently and follow it so courageously that I’m always at peace with my choices because they come from the deepest, truest part of me.
Perhaps this is easier with the little things like do I want to go out for dinner tonight? But the same principle applies to the bigger things like do I want to live in Dallas?, do I want to take that job offer?, do I want to start a family? – but the stakes are higher so it takes more courage to listen and act on it, especially if the truth to the answer requires great change. But in the end, isn’t it better to live at peace with yourself than to pay the high price of adhering to should’s?
What are your thoughts?